Characterization of ram (Ovis aries) sperm head morphometry using the Sperm-Class Analyzer
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Theriogenology, 2010, vol. 73, n. 4
Sperm morphology has been identified as a characteristic that can be useful in the prediction of fertilizing capacity. The aim of the current study was to characterize ram sperm heads morphometrically as a basis for future studies on the relationship between sperm quality and male fertility. For this purpose, ejaculates from 241 mature rams (Ovis aries) belonging to 36 different dairy herds were used to evaluate sperm head morphometry by means of the Sperm-Class Analyzer. Sperm samples, collected by artificial vagina, were diluted in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) for the analysis. A microscope slide was prepared from single-diluted fresh sperm samples. Slides were air-dried and stained with Hemacolor. A minimum of 115 sperm heads were analyzed from each male. Each sperm head was measured for four primary parameters (area, perimeter, length, width), and four derived parameters of head shape were obtained. Significant differences in sperm head morphometry were found between rams (CV for morphometric parameters ranging from 0.9 to 10.1), and there were marked differences in the sperm morphometric composition of the ejaculates. For all parameters, within-animal CVs were greater than between-animal CVs. Within-animal CVs ranged from 4.2 to 10.6, showing the high degree of sperm polymorphism present in the sheep ejaculate. Significant differences in sperm head morphometry were found between rams belonging to the different herds (i.e., origin). An important part of the variability observed on morphometric parameters was due to the male itself, with an explained variance ranging from 3.6% for regularity to 34.0% for p2a (perimeter2/[4 × π × area]). The explained variance by the herd of origin of the males ranged from 0.6% for regularity to 10.8% for area. Our results suggest that a genetic component might be responsible for the observed sperm head morphometry differences between herds.
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