Chelonian perivitelline membrane-bound sperm detection: A new breeding management tool

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Kaitlin Croyle, Paul Gibbons, Christine Light, Eric Goode, Barbara Durrant, Thomas Jensen
Zoo Biology
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Perivitelline membrane (PVM)-bound sperm detection has recently been incorporated into avian breeding programs to assess egg fertility, confirm successful copulation, and to evaluate male reproductive status and pair compatibility. Due to the similarities between avian and chelonian egg structure and development, and because fertility determination in chelonian eggs lacking embryonic growth is equally challenging, PVM-bound sperm detection may also be a promising tool for the reproductive management of turtles and tortoises. This study is the first to successfully demonstrate the use of PVM-bound sperm detection in chelonian eggs. Recovered membranes were stained with Hoechst 33342 and examined for sperm presence using fluorescence microscopy. Sperm were positively identified for up to 206 days post-oviposition, following storage, diapause, and/or incubation, in 52 opportunistically collected eggs representing 12 species. However, advanced microbial infection frequently hindered the ability to detect membrane-bound sperm. Fertile Centrochelys sulcata, Manouria emys, and Stigmochelys pardalis eggs were used to evaluate the impact of incubation and storage on the ability to detect sperm. Storage at −20°C or in formalin were found to be the best methods for egg preservation prior to sperm detection. Additionally, sperm-derived mtDNA was isolated and PCR amplified from Astrochelys radiata, C. sulcata, and S. pardalis eggs. PVM-bound sperm detection has the potential to substantially improve studies of artificial incubation and sperm storage, and could be used to evaluate the success of artificial insemination in chelonian species. Mitochondrial DNA from PVM-bound sperm has applications for parentage analysis, the study of sperm competition, and potentially species identification. Zoo Biol. 35:95–103, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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