Quantification of the X- and Y-chromosome-bearing spermatozoa of domestic animals by flow cytometry. Academic Article uri icon


  • The relative content of DNA in spermatozoa presumed to be the X- and Y-chromosome-bearing gametes from bulls, boars, rams and rabbits and the amount of DNA in spermatozoa of cockerels was determined by flow cytometry. Differences in the relative content of DNA and proportions of the presumed X- and Y-sperm populations in cryopreserved semen from Holstein, Jersey, Angus, Hereford and Brahman bulls were also determined. Spermatozoa were washed by centrifugation using a series of dimethyl sulfoxide solutions made in isotonic sodium citrate, fixed in ethanol, treated with papain and dithioerythritol to loosen the chromatin structure and remove cellular organelles, and stained quantitatively for DNA with the fluorochrome 4'-6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI). Approximately 5000 stained sperm nuclei, which were nonviable due to the removal of other cellular organelles during the washing procedure, were measured for DNA in an epi-illumination flow cytometer. A single distinct peak for cockerel spermatozoa and two symmetrical, overlapping peaks for species with X- and Y-spermatozoa were seen. This and other evidence strongly supports the interpretation that the peaks represent the X- and Y-sperm populations. The content of DNA in sperm nuclei from cockerels, bulls, boars, rams and rabbits, as determined by fluorescence flow cytometry, corresponded to biochemical estimates of DNA per sperm cell. Analyses of the bimodal histograms by computer-fitting two Gaussian distributions to the data showed the means of the peaks differed by 3.9, 3.7, 4.1 and 3.9% for bulls, boars, rams and rabbits, respectively. In four replicate analyses of semen from 25 bulls representing 5 breeds, the average population of sperm nuclei in the Y-peaks ranged from 49.5 to 50.5% for all breeds. The X-Y peak differences did not vary within each breed, but were significantly different when the breeds were compared. Spermatozoa from Jersey bulls had larger X-Y peak differences (P less than 0.001) than spermatozoa from Holstein, Hereford, and Angus bulls; spermatozoa from Brahman bulls had smaller X-Y differences (P less than 0.004). It is suggested from the evidence obtained in these studies that flow cytometry can be used to assess the proportion of X- and Y-spermatozoa in semen of domestic animals and is thereby applicable to verification of the effectiveness of enrichment techniques for X- or Y-spermatozoa.

published proceedings

  • Biol Reprod

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Garner, D. L., Gledhill, B. L., Pinkel, D., Lake, S., Stephenson, D., Van Dilla, M. A., & Johnson, L. A.

citation count

  • 125

complete list of authors

  • Garner, DL||Gledhill, BL||Pinkel, D||Lake, S||Stephenson, D||Van Dilla, MA||Johnson, LA

publication date

  • March 1983