Turkey sperm mobility influences paternity in the context of competitive fertilization

A M Donoghue, T S Sonstegard, L M King, E J Smith, D W Burt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have devised a novel means of investigating competitive fertilization in turkeys, using microsatellite genotyping to identify male parentage. Our results demonstrate that sperm mobility is a mechanism responsible in part for paternity efficiency in turkeys. Sperm mobility is composed of several parameters in which sperm motility is a component. Differences between ejaculates in the number of sperm penetrating into a dense, insert, nontoxic solution were measured and used to classify males into high, average, or low sperm mobility phenotypes. Microsatellite genotyping was used to determine parentage of poults after equal numbers of sperm from 10 males (either high or average phenotype, n = 5, mixed with low phenotype, n = 5) were inseminated simultaneously. In a separate study, the numbers of sperm hydrolyzing the perivitelline layer of eggs were compared between hens inseminated with sperm from high-, average-, or low-phenotype males. Overall, heterospermic inseminations resulted in consistently fewer offspring produced by low-mobility phenotype males. This correlated with physiological data in which semen from the low-mobility males had reduced numbers of sperm at the fertilization site as determined by sperm hole counts in the perivitelline layer of eggs. This is the first illustration of a measurable sperm trait predictive of paternity success in a competitive fertilization trial in turkeys, a species that is predominately reproduced by artificial insemination of multiple-sire pools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-7
Number of pages6
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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