Sperm population structure and male fertility: An intraspecific study of sperm design and velocity in red deer

Ramón M; Soler AJ; Ortiz JA; García-Álvarez O; Maroto-Morales A; Roldán ERS; Garde JJ.  Biology of Reproduction 89:110. 


Sperm design and velocity have key roles influencing sperm performance and, therefore, can determine fertilization success. Several interspecific studies have demonstrated how these features correlate and hypothesized that selection may drive changes in these sperm traits. Here, we examine the association between sperm design and swimming velocity in a study conducted at an intraspecific level in red deer. We addressed how the structure of different sperm subpopulations, based on sperm morphometry and velocity, are interrelated and, in turn, how they associate with fertility. Our results show that males with high fertility rates have ejaculates with high percentages of spermatozoa exhibiting fast and linear movements and that these are highly correlated with a large proportion of spermatozoa with small and elongated heads. On the other hand, males with low fertility are characterized by a subpopulation structure in which slow and non-linear, and small and wide spermatozoa, are predominant. These findings provide insight on how sperm size and velocity are interrelated and how they both are associated to fertility.

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