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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Sperm Quality in Young Bull Semen Can Be Improved by Single Layer Centrifugation

Lima-Verde, Isabel; Hurri, Emma; Ntallaris, Theodoros; Johannisson, Anders; Stalhammar, Hans; Morrell, Jane M.


Simple Summary Genomic selection enables bulls with desirable genes to be identified early in life. Livestock producers need to use the semen from young bulls as early as possible for efficient milk and meat production with fewer greenhouse gas emissions. However, semen from young bulls is often of lower quality than needed for freezing for commercial artificial insemination. Colloid centrifugation selects spermatozoa with the desirable characteristics needed for fertilization from the rest of the ejaculate. In this study, split ejaculates from young bulls were prepared with or without colloid centrifugation. Using this technique, sperm doses of acceptable quality for artificial insemination could be produced from ejaculates that would otherwise be discarded. Thus, the semen from young bulls would be usable for artificial insemination sooner than is currently the case. Interest in using semen from young bulls is increasing due to identifying promising animals by genomic selection. However, sperm quality in these ejaculates may not reach currently accepted standards for the cattle breeding industry. The purpose of this study was to determine if centrifugation of semen from young bulls through the Bovicoll colloid could improve sperm quality sufficiently for the frozen semen to be acceptable for artificial insemination. Ejaculates from 19 young bulls were split and either processed by Single-Layer Centrifugation (SLC) or not (CON) before freezing. After thawing, sperm quality was evaluated by determination of membrane integrity, mitochondrial membrane potential, DNA integrity, production of reactive oxygen species, sperm morphology and motility. Approximately half of the CON samples reached acceptable post-thaw quality (membrane integrity >= 40%) despite being below the breeding company ' s desired sperm concentration threshold pre-freezing. In the remaining samples, sperm quality was improved by SLC such that 45% of them reached acceptable quality post-thaw. Almost 75% of the young bull sperm samples could have produced usable frozen semen doses by adjusting the breeding company ' s current processing protocols. Since lowering the generation interval has a direct effect on the genetic gain per year, SLC could aid genetic progress in cattle breeding.


sperm quality; young bull ejaculates; genomic selection; genetic progress; generation interval; single-layer centrifugation; sperm cryopreservation

Published in

2022, Volume: 12, number: 18, article number: 2435
Publisher: MDPI