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The Influence of Gamete Co-incubation Length on the In Vitro Fertility and Sex Ratio of Bovine Bulls with Different Penetration Speed


Author’s address (for correspondence): S Di Francesco, DISCIZIA, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, “Federico II” University, Via F. Delpino 1, 80137 Naples, Italy. E-mail:


Contents The objectives of this work were to evaluate whether the sperm penetration speed is correlated to the in vitro fertility and whether adapting the gamete co-incubation length to the kinetics of the bull improves in vitro fertility and affects the sex ratio. In vitro matured oocytes were co-incubated with spermatozoa from four different bulls (A–D). At various post-insemination (p.i.) times (4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 h), samples of oocytes were fixed and stained with DAPI for nuclei examination, while the remaining ones were transferred into culture to evaluate embryo development. The blastocysts produced were sexed by PCR. Two bulls (A and B) had faster kinetics than the others (C and D), as shown by the higher penetration rates recorded at 4 h p.i. (43%, 30%, 11% and 6%, respectively for bulls A, B, C and D; p < 0.01). The differences in the kinetics among bulls did not reflect their in vitro fertility. The incidence of polyspermy was higher for faster penetrating bulls (36%, 24%, 16% and 4%, respectively for bulls A, B, C and D; p < 0.01) and at longer co-incubation times (0%, 16%, 19%, 30% and 34%, respectively at 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 h p.i.; p < 0.01). The fertilizing ability of individual bulls may be improved by adapting the co-incubation length to their penetration speed. A sperm–oocyte co-incubation length of 8 h ensured the greatest blastocyst yields for the two faster penetrating bulls. On the contrary, 16 h co-incubation was required to increase (p < 0.01) cleavage rate of the two slower bulls. Bulls with a faster kinetics did not alter the embryo sex ratio towards males. The female/male (F/M) ratios recorded were 2.1, 1.4, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.6, respectively at 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 h p.i.