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Variations of sperm release in three batches of zebrafish

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By collecting and counting the number of sperm released during separate matings in three batches of zebrafish Danio rerio, aged 3–4, 4–5 and 5–6 months, males were observed to release sperm before the female started laying their eggs. After the female left the nest, the number and motility of sperm and life span of sperm of younger fish were higher than those of older fish in water samples collected under the nest and at the surface of the tank. Sperm were released in the form of sperm trails laid on the nest surface, subsequently active spermatozoa left the trails and moved in the water for several minutes. Sperm trails consisted of bands of viscous material in which the sperm were embedded. In most cases eggs were not laid directly over the sperm trail, suggesting that sperm may contact the eggs after the latter are released into the water. In all the three tested groups there was no significant difference (P > 0·05) between the number of sperm collected on some portions of the acetate sheets which lined the nest ceiling. This result demonstrated that the greater activity of younger fish accelerated the sperm dispersal in water. Male sperm duct glands, seminal vesicles, known to secrete mucosubstances are probably involved in the production of sperm trails. The possible influence of insemination on the mating style of zebrafish is discussed.

Keywords: Danio rerio; fertilization; insemination; reproductive behaviour; seminal vesicles; testis

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Center for Environmental Research, University of Saarland D-66 041 Saarbrücken, Germany

Publication date: February 1, 2004

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