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Bull sperm surface “craters” and other aspects of semen quality

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0093-691x(99)00025-4
  • Craters
  • Normal Acrosomes
  • Unstained Spermatozoa
  • Fertility


Abstract Semen from 200 Holstein bulls in an artificial insemination center was examined for the frequency of craters on the surface of sperm heads, as visualized with the aid of differential interference contrast microscopy. Semen from 100 of these bulls was examined in more detail in 2 experiments by staining with eosin-aniline blue to determine the relationship of unstained spermatozoa, and spermatozoa with normal acrosomes with apical ridges to the incidence of craters and fertility. Only 3 of 100 bulls had a substantial incidence of craters (15 to 23%), whereas the average of the other 97 bulls in 2 experiments was 1 to 3%. The percentage of sperm cells with craters was correlated (P < 0.05) with the percentage of unstained spermatozoa (r = −0.29 and sperm cells with normal acrosomes (r = −0.52) but was not significantly correlated (r = −0.24) with the nonreturn rate. One bull with many sperm cells with craters was slaughtered, and the epididymal spermatozoa were examined. The high incidence of sperm cells with craters was limited to one side, with the testis on that side having 2 Sertoli cell tumors. The remaining 2 bulls as well as one other that produced 16% of sperm cells with craters did so only temporarily. Within a few months crater sperm production had decreased and semen quality increased. The condition usually appears to be transitory, presumably due to temporary stress.

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