Madeddu, Manuela and Berlinguer, Fiammetta and Ledda, Massimo and Leoni, Giovanni Giuseppe and Satta, Valentina and Succu, Sara and Rotta, Andrea and Pasciu, Valeria and Zinellu, Angelo and Muzzeddu, Marco and Carru, Ciriaco and Naitana, Salvatore (2009) Ejaculate collection efficiency and post-thaw semen quality in wild-caught Griffon vultures from the Sardinian population. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, Vol. 7 (18), p. 1-11. ISSN 1477-7827. Article.
This study aimed to test the feasibility of a programme of semen collection and cryopreservation in Griffon vultures. Four wild-caught individuals kept in captivity because of unrecoverable traumas were used. Semen collection attempts were made twice a week during three consecutive reproductive seasons (December – March) using the abdominal massage method. Ejaculation was successfully induced between late January and late February. Semen collection efficiency was rather low (27.9%) and it did not vary among individuals (p > 0.05). No differences were found in ejaculate volumes (12.5 +/- 9.1 μl), spermatozoa concentration (28.4 +/- 30.9 million cells/ml) and viability (61.3 +/- 13.9%) among the 4 vultures. ATP values differed among the four vultures (p < 0.001); B showed higher nucleotide concentration than both C and D, while it did not differ form A, whose values were higher compared with D. After freezing and thawing, semen in vitro viability, DNA integrity and ATP intracellular concentration were determined. Spermatozoa viability after thawing did not differ among the four individuals (52.6 +/- 5.8 in A, 53.4 +/- 4.6 in B, 50.4 +/- 3.2 in C, 42.5 +/- 2.7 in D), but it decreased significantly compared to fresh semen (p < 0.05). During 4 hrs in vitro culture, spermatozoa collected from B maintained over time a higher viability in vitro when compared to A, C and D. As evaluated by the comet assay method, DNA fragmentation after freezing and thawing did not differ in the 4 vultures. ATP concentration in frozen/thawed semen was significantly lower than in fresh semen (p < 0.0001). This study indicates that semen cryopreservation can be considered as a useful tool in the conservation of Griffon vulture genetic resources, but further studies are needed to optimize this technique.
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