Senescent sperm performance in old male birds.
ABSTRACT Senescence is the deterioration of the phenotype with age caused by negative effects of mutations acting late in life or the physiological deterioration of vital processes. Birds have traditionally been assumed to senescence slowly despite their high metabolic rates, high blood sugar levels and high body temperature. Here we investigate the patterns of age-related performance of sperm of a long distance migrant, the barn swallow Hirundo rustica, varying in age from 1 to 6 years, analysed by the computer-assisted sperm analysis equipment. Sperm showed deteriorating performance in terms of linear movement, track velocity, straight line velocity and reduced proportions of rapidly moving, progressive and motile sperm with age. In a second series of experiments, we assessed performance of sperm from the same males in neutral medium and in medium derived from the reproductive tract of females in an attempt to test if sperm of old males performed relatively better in female medium, as expected from extra-pair paternity being negatively related to male age, but not to female age. Older males showed consistently better performance in female medium than in neutral medium in terms of track velocity, straight line velocity and reduced proportions of rapidly moving, progressive and motile sperm, whereas young males showed better performance in neutral medium. These results provide evidence of declining sperm performance for important reproductive variables not only with age, but also with the sperm of old males performing differentially better in female medium than young males.
Article: Sex biases in the mutation rate.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Men have more germ-line cell divisions than women. Does this lead to a higher mutation rate in males? Most estimates of the proportion of mutations originating in men come either from direct observation of disease-inducing mutations or from analysis of the relative rate of evolution of sex-linked and autosomal genes in primates. The latter mode of analysis has also been applied to other mammals, birds and files. For unknown reasons, this method produces contradictory results. A majority of estimates using the best direct methods in humans indicate a male bias for point mutations, but the variance in estimates is high. It is unclear how the evolutionary and direct data correspond and a consensus as to the extent of any male bias is not presently possible. While the number of germ-line cell divisions might contribute to differences, this by no means accounts for all of the data.Trends in Genetics 12/1998; 14(11):446-52. · 9.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The theoretical prediction that fast sperm should be more effective at fertilizing eggs has never been documented empirically. Interspecific comparisons suggest an inverse relationship between sperm velocity and sperm longevity but this trade-off has never been demonstrated within a species. Here I investigate how sperm velocity and sperm longevity influence the patterns of fertilization in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. In the laboratory I examined 11 male female pairs of sea urchins for variation in sperm velocity and sperm longevity, and determined the correlations of these traits with the percentage of eggs fertilized with serially diluted sperm. Males with faster sperm had higher rates of fertilization than males with slower sperm. Within individual males, as sperm aged they slowed down and showed a reduced percentage activity and lower rates of fertilization. Across males, the average velocity of freshly spawned sperm was inversely related to sperm longevity. These results establish the possibility that sperm traits are adapted for varying conditions along a continuum from sperm limitation to sperm competition.Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 04/2000; 267(1443):531-4. · 5.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Semen quality is associated with fertility status, but there is little quantitative information on risk factors that affect semen quality, especially in non-clinical populations. Advancing male age has been associated with a decline in semen quality, with the largest effect being on sperm motility. However, there is little quantitative data on the specific components of sperm motion that are affected by male age. We performed linear regression analyses of 14 aspects of semen quality measured by computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA) in a non-clinical cohort of 90 non-smoking men, aged 22-80 years, who had no history of infertility or reproductive problems. We found age-associated declines in CASA-determined motility (% motile, 0.8% per year; % progressively motile, 0.9% per year; % rapidly motile, 0.4% per year, P <or= 0.001) and three quantitative aspects of sperm motion [linearity (LIN), 0.2% per year; straight line velocity (VSL), 0.2% per year, and average path velocity (VAP), 0.3% per year, P < 0.05], with no evidence for age thresholds and no significant association with abstinence duration. Age was not significantly associated with amplitude of lateral head (ALH) displacement, beat cross frequency (BCF) and nuclear elongation or size. Quantitative analysis of sperm motion indicates that as men age, they produce fewer motile sperm, which are able to travel less along a linear path, thus covering less forward distance per unit time. These findings may have fertility implications for men who choose to delay fatherhood.Human Reproduction 12/2006; 21(11):2868-75. · 4.67 Impact Factor