Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fitness for toad sperm: Secret is to mate frequently

Date:
December 4, 2012
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
Fertility tests frequently reveal that males have problems with the quality of their sperm.  The problems often relate to sperm senescence, which is a reduction in quality with age.  Sperm senescence can arise either before or after the DNA in the sperm cells is produced by a process known as meiosis.  So-called “pre-meiotic” senescence results from accumulated damage in the germline cells with increasing age and results in older males having sperm of lower quality.  Post-meiotic senescence occurs after the sperm cells have been produced, either during storage of sperm by the male or after ejaculation and before they fertilize the eggs.

A male toad (on top) clutching a bigger female.
Credit: Attila Hettyey

Fertility tests frequently reveal that males have problems with the quality of their sperm. The problems often relate to sperm senescence, which is a reduction in quality with age. Sperm senescence can arise either before or after the DNA in the sperm cells is produced by a process known as meiosis. So-called "pre-meiotic" senescence results from accumulated damage in the germline cells with increasing age and results in older males having sperm of lower quality. Post-meiotic senescence occurs after the sperm cells have been produced, either during storage of sperm by the male or after ejaculation and before they fertilize the eggs.

There is previous evidence that various kinds of sperm senescence occur in insects, in some domestic animals (birds and mammals) and even in humans but the studies have generally been carried out under fairly artificial conditions and so it is not clear how they relate to wild animals -- or to the general human population. These objections have been overcome in the latest work of Attila Hettyey and colleagues at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni), together with Balázs Vági in Budapest, Hungary, where Hettyey himself is now working.

The researchers investigated the common toad, an interesting model system as it is known to produce all its sperm before the start of the breeding season. They found that male toads that re-entered hibernation at the start of the breeding season, i.e. that lowered their metabolic rates after producing sperm, stored sperm of significantly higher motility than males kept under pseudo-natural conditions without females throughout the entire breeding season. The result means that slowing the normal rate of general physiological processes reduced the normal rate of sperm aging within the toad's testicles. This constitutes the first evidence for post-meiotic intra-testicular sperm senescence in a wild vertebrate. A further surprising result was that in males kept under pseudo-natural conditions, sperm motility was related to the number of matings a male achieved, with the presence of females or the occurrence of matings having a positive effect on the quality of stored sperm. This suggests that post-meiotic intra-testicular sperm senescence does not occur at a fixed rate but may be modulated by external factors, such as temperature and number of matings.

In summary, the scientists at the Vetmeduni have shown that sperm senescence occurs while sperm are stored in the testicles of animals living under essentially "natural" conditions. They also suggest that the rate of sperm senescence can be slowed if males mate more frequently. For animals that produce sperm continuously, such as man, the implications seem to be that more frequent ejaculations serve both to remove older and thus less viable sperm as well as to reduce the damage to sperm cells during storage. The senior author on the PLoS ONE paper, Richard Wagner, is keen to speculate on the importance of the results. "We do not yet know how general post-meiotic sperm senescence is in wild animals, or man. But if it turns out to be widespread, it will be fascinating to see how it affects reproductive behaviour." As Hettyey says, "Females may try to avoid males with damaged sperm while males may choose particular environments that slow sperm senescence and may attempt to shorten periods of sexual rest by also accepting matings with low-quality females or by discharging aged sperm."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Attila Hettyey, Balázs Vági, Dustin J. Penn, Herbert Hoi, Richard H. Wagner. Post-Meiotic Intra-Testicular Sperm Senescence in a Wild Vertebrate. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e50820 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050820

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Fitness for toad sperm: Secret is to mate frequently." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204081142.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2012, December 4). Fitness for toad sperm: Secret is to mate frequently. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204081142.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "Fitness for toad sperm: Secret is to mate frequently." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204081142.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins