SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Contents

The cellular effects of tall fescue grass–associated toxic ergot alkaloids on stallion sperm and colt testicular tissue were evaluated. This was a continuation of an initial experiment where the effects of toxic ergot alkaloids on the stallion spermiogram were investigated. The only spermiogram parameter in exposed stallions that was affected by the toxic ergot alkaloids was a decreased gel-free volume of the ejaculate. This study examined the effect of toxic ergot alkaloids on chilling and freezing of the stallion sperm cells. The effect of toxic ergot alkaloids on chilled extended sperm cells for 48 h at 5°C was to make the sperm cells less likely to undergo a calcium ionophore–induced acrosome reaction. The toxic ergot alkaloids had no effect on the freezability of sperm cells. However, if yearling colts were fed toxic ergot alkaloids, then the cytological analysis of meiotic chromosome synapsis revealed a significant increase in the proportion of pachytene spermatocytes showing unpaired sex chromosomes compared to control spermatocytes. There was little effect of ergot alkaloids on adult stallions, but there might be a significant effect on yearling colts.