Sperm motility parameters and spermatozoa morphometric characterization in marine species: a study of swimmer and sessile species.

PMID 25016411


The biodiversity of marine ecosystems is diverse and a high number of species coexist side by side. However, despite the fact that most of these species share a common fertilization strategy, a high variability in terms of the size, shape, and motion of spermatozoa can be found. In this study, we have analyzed both the sperm motion parameters and the spermatozoa morphometric features of two swimmer (pufferfish and European eel) and two sessile (sea urchin and ascidian) marine species. The most important differences in the sperm motion parameters were registered in the swimming period. Sessile species sperm displayed notably higher values than swimmer species sperm. In addition, the sperm motilities and velocities of the swimmer species decreased sharply once the sperm was activated, whereas the sessile species were able to maintain their initial values for a long time. These results are linked directly to the species-specific lifestyles. Although sessile organisms, which show limited or no movement, need sperm with a capacity to swim for long distances to find the oocytes, swimmer organisms can move toward the female and release gametes near it, and therefore the spermatozoa does not need to swim for such a long time. At the same time, sperm morphology is related to sperm motion parameters, and in this study an in-depth morphometric analysis of ascidian, sea urchin, and pufferfish spermatozoa, using computer-assisted sperm analysis software, has been carried out for the first time. A huge variability in shapes, sizes, and structures of the studied species was found using electron microscopy.