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The presence of a rival male affects sperm quality, according to a research study led by the University of Alicante and the University of Upsala (Sweden). The work was carried out with adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) and reveals that male spermatozoa exposed to high competition (two males and a single female) present dramatic changes in phenotype resulting in faster and more competitive spermatozoa. However, this phenotypic plasticity may incur a cost in the next generation as it has negative effects on DNA integrity.
According to lead author Paula Sáez, results are revealing, as this model provides detailed new data on the effect of sexual competence on sperm function and quality.
Research - Methodology - Zebrafish - Competition - Treatment
The research methodology involved exposing the male zebrafish to a high competition treatment for two weeks. Another group of two males with one female represented low competition, i.e. a male with two females. Although the presence of a rival male increases the competitiveness of spermatozoa, it has negative effects on DNA, Sáez added. A possible explanation for the difference in damage to genetic material is that males in highly competitive treatment experience higher stress levels, probably triggering greater production of reactive oxygen species. This increase could be triggering the damage observed in the DNA chains, affecting both the fertilisation success and the offspring survival, as stated by the UA researcher.
The special structural organisation of sperm comes from complex morpho-genetic changes during spermiogenesis, when the nucleus...
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