Socially transferred materials: why and how to study them

Sanja Maria Hakala, Haruna Fujioka, Katharina Gapp, Ornela De Gasperin, Eléonore Genzoni, Rebecca M. Kilner, Joris M. Koene, Barbara König, Timothy A. Linksvayer, Marie Pierre Meurville, Matteo A. Negroni, Hugo Palejowski, Stuart Wigby, Adria C. LeBoeuf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


When biological material is transferred from one individual's body to another, as in ejaculate, eggs, and milk, secondary donor-produced molecules are often transferred along with the main cargo, and influence the physiology and fitness of the receiver. Both social and solitary animals exhibit such social transfers at certain life stages. The secondary, bioactive, and transfer-supporting components in socially transferred materials have evolved convergently to the point where they are used in applications across taxa and type of transfer. The composition of these materials is typically highly dynamic and context dependent, and their components drive the physiological and behavioral evolution of many taxa. Our establishment of the concept of socially transferred materials unifies this multidisciplinary topic and will benefit both theory and applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • allohormones
  • evolutionary transitions
  • metabolomics
  • microbiome
  • parental care
  • seminal fluid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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