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Risk of sperm disorders and impaired fertility in frozen–thawed bull semen: a genome-wide association study

Dementieva, Natalia V., Dysin, Artyom P., Shcherbakov, Yuri S., Nikitkina, Elena V., Musidray, Artem A., Petrova, Anna V., Mitrofanova, Olga V., Plemyashov, Kirill V., Azovtseva, Anastasiia I., Griffin, Darren K., and others. (2024) Risk of sperm disorders and impaired fertility in frozen–thawed bull semen: a genome-wide association study. Animals, 14 (2). Article Number 251. ISSN 2076-2615. E-ISSN 2076-2615. (doi:10.3390/ani14020251) (KAR id:104598)


Simple Summary

This study tackles the genetic aspects of the risk of sperm damage and related impaired fertility when handling frozen–thawed bull semen for artificial insemination. To this end, we performed genomic association analysis to identify relevant genetic markers and candidate genes associated with various abnormalities in frozen–thawed Holstein cattle sperm. The results provide important insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying sperm morphology and abnormalities after cryopreservation. Further research is needed to explore causative genetic variants and implement these findings to improve animal reproduction and breeding.


Cryopreservation is a widely used method of semen conservation in animal breeding programs. This process, however, can have a detrimental effect on sperm quality, especially in terms of its morphology. The resultant sperm disorders raise the risk of reduced sperm fertilizing ability, which poses a serious threat to the long-term efficacy of livestock reproduction and breeding. Understanding the genetic factors underlying these effects is critical for maintaining sperm quality during cryopreservation, and for animal fertility in general. In this regard, we performed a genome-wide association study to identify genomic regions associated with various cryopreservation sperm abnormalities in Holstein cattle, using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers via a high-density genotyping assay. Our analysis revealed a significant association of specific SNPs and candidate genes with absence of acrosomes, damaged cell necks and tails, as well as wrinkled acrosomes and decreased motility of cryopreserved sperm. As a result, we identified candidate genes such as POU6F2, LPCAT4, DPYD, SLC39A12 and CACNB2, as well as microRNAs (bta-mir-137 and bta-mir-2420) that may play a critical role in sperm morphology and disorders. These findings provide crucial information on the molecular mechanisms underlying acrosome integrity, motility, head abnormalities and damaged cell necks and tails of sperm after cryopreservation. Further studies with larger sample sizes, genome-wide coverage and functional validation are needed to explore causal variants in more detail, thereby elucidating the mechanisms mediating these effects. Overall, our results contribute to the understanding of genetic architecture in cryopreserved semen quality and disorders in bulls, laying the foundation for improved animal reproduction and breeding.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3390/ani14020251
Projects: Project No. FGGN-2024-0015
Uncontrolled keywords: frozen-thawed bull semen; genome-wide association study; single nucleotide polymorphism; sperm abnormalities; Holstein cattle
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies of Reproduction
Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Biosciences
Signature Themes: Food Systems, Natural Resources and Environment
Depositing User: Mike Romanov
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2024 10:41 UTC
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 15:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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