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Acrosomal integrity, viability, and DNA damage of sperm from dasyurid marsupials after freezing or freeze drying

Czarny, N.A., Harris, M.S., De Iuliis, G.N., Rodger, J.C.
Theriogenology 2009 v.72 no.6 pp. 817-825
Dasyuridae, wild animals, endangered species, spermatozoa, cryopreservation, freeze drying, acrosome, viability, DNA damage, sperm motility, toxicity, glycerol, cryoprotectants, fructose, cell nucleus
Dasyurids are a diverse group of Australian native carnivores and insectivores that contains several threatened species. Despite successful cryopreservation of sperm from several marsupials, only 3% postthaw motility is reported for dasyurid marsupials. This study examined sperm preservation in the fat-tailed dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata), an experimental model, with supplementary observations on the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) and northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus). In S. crassicaudata, a toxicity trial demonstrated that incubation with up to 40% glycerol did not reduce sperm viability, suggesting that glycerol is not toxic to dasyurids. On the basis of this finding, S. crassicaudata, D. viverrinus, and D. hallucatus sperm were extended to a final concentration of 20% or 40% glycerol in Tris-citrate fructose and frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor. Postthaw sperm from all three species were nonmotile, and vital staining (SYBR14 and propidium iodide) indicated that sperm were nonviable. However, there was no evidence suggesting disruption of normal gross morphology or loss of acrosomal integrity when assessed by Bryan's staining. After freeze drying, Bryan's staining indicated that approximately 80% of S. crassicaudata sperm had normal acrosomes and no head loss. Despite being nonviable, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling showed that S. crassicaudata sperm frozen in 40% glycerol or freeze-dried had no DNA damage compared with fresh controls. This study has described a method for preservation of the dasyurid sperm nuclei, but continued studies are required to achieve viable motile sperm and establish tools for the long-term storage of dasyurid sperm.