The effects of male social environment on sperm phenotype and genome integrity

Willian T. A. F. Silva, Paula Sáez Espinosa, Stéphanie Torijo Boix, Alejandro Romero, Caroline Devaux, Mathilde Durieux, María José Gómez Torres, Simone Immler

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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Sperm function and quality are primary determinants of male reproductive performance and hence fitness. The presence of rival males has been shown to affect ejaculate and sperm traits in a wide range of taxa. However, male physiological conditions may not only affect sperm phenotypic traits but also their genetic and epigenetic signatures, affecting the fitness of the resulting offspring. We investigated the effects of male-male competition on sperm quality using TUNEL assays and geometric morphometrics in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. We found that the sperm produced by males exposed to high male-male competition had smaller heads but larger midpiece and flagellum than sperm produced by males under low competition. Head and flagella also appeared less sensitive to the osmotic stress induced by activation with water. In addition, more sperm showed signals of DNA damage in ejaculates of males under high competition. These findings suggest that the presence of a rival male may have positive effects on phenotypic traits but negative effects on DNA integrity. Overall, males facing the presence of rival males may produce faster swimming and more competitive sperm but this may come at a cost for the next generation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-544
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number6
Early online date28 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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