The objective of this study was to evaluate relationships between common semen quality estimates including sperm motility, sperm morphology, spontaneous capacitation status and seminal plasma proteins and boar fertility using heterospermic inseminations and subsequent paternity testing. All boars (n = 12) used in the study had excellent semen quality (≥70% normal sperm) that resulted in average farrowing rates and litter sizes of 88.9 ± 0.7% and 11.7 ± 0.1 pigs, respectively. Their ejaculates were combined to make heterospermic insemination doses in such a way that each boar was tested against all of his contemporaries. The proportion of piglets sired by each individual was used to separate boars into three fertility groups: High (71.6 ± 4.8%; n = 3); Medium (51.6 ± 3.8%; n = 6); and Low (25.2% ± 5.3%; n = 3).
Ejaculates from High fertility boars had more motile sperm with normal acrosomes that moved faster in a straight-line and were more likely to undergo an acrosome reaction (p ≤ 0.05) compared with their counterparts in the Low fertility group. Ejaculates from High fertility boars contained the greatest concentrations of three seminal plasma proteins (25.9 kD/5.9 pI; 55.1 kD/4.8 pI; and 70.1 kD/5.2 pI; p ≤ 0.05), whereas concentrations of a 19.1 kD/6.8 pI were highest in semen from Low fertility boars (p ≤ 0.05). Multiple regression analyses indicated that concentrations of the 25.9 kD/5.9 pI seminal plasma protein explained 66% of the variation observed in the proportion of pigs sired within a litter among boars (p ≤ 0.00001). These results demonstrate that heterospermic inseminations and subsequent paternity testing is an effective technique for defining relationships between common semen quality tests and fertility, especially in situations where reproductive performance of all the boars is high. Motility, normal acrosome morphology, average linear velocity of motile sperm, and the proportion of sperm capable of an acrosome reaction were all positively associated with boar fertility. However, concentrations of a 25.9 kD/5.9 pI seminal plasma protein were the best single semen characteristic for ranking boars in terms of their fertility.
W.L.Flowers, F.Deller, K.R.Stewart. Use of heterospermic inseminations and paternity testing to evaluate the relative contributions of common sperm traits and seminal plasma proteins in boar fertility. Animal Reproduction Science. Volume 174, November 2016, Pages 123-131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2016.09.016