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Soc Reprod Fertil Suppl. 2006;62:99-112.

Genetic variation in sperm production.

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  • 1USDA, ARS, RLH US Meat Animal Research Center, P. O. Box 166; State Spur 180, Clay Center, NE 68933, USA.


In boars, the primary determinant of daily sperm production is the number of Sertoli cells, which establishes testicular weight. The only breed comparison of foetal testicular development in boars contrasted two diverse breeds, White composite (WC, Landrace-Yorkshire) with Meishan, a Chinese breed that undergoes pubertal development at a young age and has small testicular size. During the prenatal period, the pattern of change in testicular development is similar in these two breeds with both having their greatest proportion of proliferating Sertoli cells at 90 days of gestation, and with WC boars possessing more Sertoli cells and greater mass of seminiferous tubules during the latter half of gestation. During the first month of life, Meishan boars accumulate Sertoli cells and mass of seminiferous tubules at a greater rate than WC boars, and Meishan boars undergo terminal differentiation of Sertoli cells at a younger age. Postpubertal boars, within each breed and crossbreds of the two breeds, with small testicular size have increased circulating concentrations of follicle-stimulating hormone. No direct breed comparisons of testicular development are apparent for postpubertal boars of other breeds. Accepting the limitations of data reported from different laboratories, Piau boars reach puberty at an older age and have a greater proportion of their testes occupied with seminiferous tubules than Meishan boars; both breeds have small testes. A gene or genes on the X chromosome code for small testicular size in Meishan crossbred boars; genetic determinants of testicular size and sperm production in other breeds remain to be identified.

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