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Monday, September 26, 2016

Can IVF influence human evolution?

Hans Ivar Hanevik, Dag O. Hessen, Arne Sunde, and Jarle Breivik
Human Reproduction (2016) 31 (7): 1397-1402 first published online April 19, 2016 doi:10.1093/humrep/dew089


IVF, a procedure in which pharmacological and technological manipulation is used to promote pregnancy, offers help to infertile couples by circumventing selection at the most fundamental level. Fertility is clearly one of the key fitness-promoting drivers in all forms of sexually reproducing life, and fertilization and pregnancy are fundamental evolutionary processes that involve a range of pre- and post-zygotic screening mechanisms. Here, we discuss the various selection and screening factors involved in fertilization and pregnancy and assess IVF practices in light of these factors. We then focus on the possible consequences of these differences in selection pressures, mainly at the individual but also at the population level, to evaluate whether changes in the reproducing genotype can affect human evolution. The aim of the article is not to argue for or against IVF, but to address aspects of assisted reproduction in an evolutionary context.

The article is here.