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Theriogenology. 2003 Apr 1;59(7):1487-502.

Seasonal timing of sperm production in roe deer: interrelationship among changes in ejaculate parameters, morphology and function of testis and accessory glands.

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1
Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, PF 601103, 10252 Berlin, Germany. goeritz@izw-berlin.de

Abstract

Roe deer are seasonal breeders with a short rutting season from mid-July to mid-August. The seasonality of reproductive activity in males is associated with cyclic changes between growth and involution of both testes and the accessory sex glands. This study characterizes morphological and functional parameters of these organs prior to, during and after breeding season in live adult roe deer bucks. Size and morphology of the reproductive tract was monitored monthly by transcutaneous (testes, epididymis) and transrectal (accessory glands) ultrasonography. Semen was collected by electroejaculation. Concentration, motility and morphological integrity of spermatozoa as well as the content of proteins and testosterone in semen plasma were evaluated. Proportions of haploid, diploid and tetraploid cells were estimated by flow cytometry in testicular tissue biopsies. Serum testosterone was measured by enzyme immunoassay. Most parts of the male reproductive tract showed distinct circannual changes in size and texture. These changes were most pronounced in the testes, seminal vesicles, and prostate. All reproductive organs were highly developed during the rut only. The volume of ejaculates, total sperm number and percentages of motile and intact spermatozoa also showed a maximum during this period and corresponded with high proportions of haploid cells in the testis. The highest percentages of tetraploid cells were found in the prerutting period. The production of motile and intact spermatozoa correlated with both the protein content of semen plasma and the concentration of testosterone in semen plasma and blood serum. These results suggest the importance of combined actions of the testes and accessory sex glands and the crucial role of testosterone in facilitating the optimal timing of intensified semen production to ensure sufficient numbers of normal spermatozoa in seasonal breeders.

PMID:
12559454
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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