Sexual rest and post-meiotic sperm ageing in house mice

Renee Firman, Fiona Young, D.C. Rowe, H.T. Duong, Clelia Gasparini

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    18 Citations (Web of Science)


    © 2015 European Society For Evolutionary Biology. Fertilization by aged sperm can result in adverse fitness consequences for both males and females. Sperm storage during male sexual rest could provide an environment for post-meiotic sperm senescence causing a deterioration in the quality of stored sperm, possibly impacting on both sperm performance (e.g. swimming ability) and DNA quality. Here, we compared the proportion of sperm with fragmented DNA, an indicator of structural damage of DNA within the sperm cell, among males that had been sexually rested for approximately 2 months, to that of males that had mated recently. We found no evidence of intra-epididymal sperm DNA damage or any impairment in sperm performance, and consequently no evidence of post-meiotic sperm senescence. Our results suggest that male house mice are likely to possess mechanisms that function to ensure that their sperm reserves remain stocked with 'young', viable sperm during periods of sexual inactivity. We also discuss the possibility that our experimental design leads to no difference in the age of sperm among males from the two mating treatments. Post-meiotic sperm senescence is especially relevant under sperm competition. Thus, we sourced mice from populations that differed in their levels of post-copulatory sexual selection, enabling us to gain insight into how selection for higher sperm production influences the rate of sperm ageing and levels of DNA fragmentation. We found that males from the population that produced the highest number of sperm also had the smallest proportion of DNA-fragmented sperm and discuss this outcome in relation to selection acting upon males to ensure that they produce ejaculates with high-quality sperm that are successful in achieving fertilizations under competitive conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1373-1382
    JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
    Issue number7
    Early online date11 Jun 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


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