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Infertile Boars with Knobbed and Immotile Short-tail Sperm Defects in the Finnish Yorkshire Breed

Kopp, C., Sironen, A., Ijäs, R., Taponen, J., Vilkki, J., Sukura, A., Andersson, M.
Reproduction in domestic animals 2008 v.43 no.6 pp. 690-695
Sertoli cells, acrosome, boars, breeding, chromosomes, farms, genes, histology, landraces, morphometry, piglets, semen, seminiferous tubules, sows, spermatids, swine breeds
In the period 1996-2006 two specific sperm defects, the knobbed acrosome (KA) defect and the immotile short-tail sperm (ISTS) defect, showed a strong negative association with fertility in Finnish breeding boars. In this study, we examined the incidence of these two sperm defects in two pig breeds, their effects on fertility and their associations with sperm morphology and testicular histology. Semen samples from 2048 (1097 Yorkshire, 951 Landrace) boars were collected. None of the Landrace boars revealed either the KA defect or the ISTS defect. Of the Yorkshire boars, 0.8% were afflicted with the KA defect and 7.6% with the ISTS defect. Boars diagnosed with the ISTS defect produced no litters. Fertility data were available from two artificially inseminated (AI) boars and six farm breeding boars affected with the KA defect. Breeding boars with 45-81% knobbed spermatozoa (n = 6) did not produce any litters out of 71 sows bred. AI boars with 25-30% knobbed spermatozoa had a poor non-return rate (on average 47% compared with 85% for normal control boars) and produced small litters, on average 2.5 piglets less than other boars of the same breed. Morphometry of testicular tissue and distribution of different cells in the seminiferous tubules were examined in nine boars. Boars with the KA defect had a smaller diameter of the seminiferous tubules (p < 0.05) and a lower number of Sertoli cells (p < 0.05) than controls. ISTS boars, in turn, had a significantly lower number of elongated spermatids (p < 0.05), and they also produced on average only 12% of the spermatozoa of normal boars. The ISTS defect is a manifestation of an autosomal recessive disease caused by an insertion in the KPL2 gene in porcine chromosome 16. Although we tried to map the KA defect, its aetiology remains unclear.