The relationship of porcine sperm zona-binding ability to fertility

A. G. Braundmeier, J. M. Demers, R. D. Shanks, D. J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several laboratory assays have been designed to assess the fertility potential of a semen sample before insemination, but none have been consistent and accurate predictors of fertility. To determine whether zona-binding ability may be a useful fertility predictor, we validated and used an in vitro competitive assay to measure the ability of porcine sperm to bind to the zona pellucida. The zona-binding ability of sperm from 11 boars that exhibited a broad range in average litter size and farrowing rate was determined. Sperm from each boar were compared directly with sperm from eight other boars in a systematic, pairwise fashion. Sperm from two semen samples were labeled with fluorophores at concentrations that did not affect motility or zona-binding ability. An equal number of labeled sperm from each boar was coincubated with homologous oocytes. Least squares means from analysis of variance were used to rank boars based on zona-binding ability. The competitive assay was effective in establishing a ranking of the boars (R2 = 0.62). Furthermore, there was a correlation between zona-binding ability and fertility when estimated by average litter size (r = 0.64, P < 0.05) but not when estimated by farrowing rate (r = -0.28). The explanation for this difference was that litter size and farrowing rate were poorly correlated (r = 0.14). In conclusion, a competitive zona-binding assay distinguished boars that sired either small or large litters. Competitive zona-binding ability may be useful for identifying boars with reduced fertility that produce smaller litters following insemination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-458
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Fertilization
  • Litter Size
  • Oocyte
  • Pig
  • Spermatozoa
  • Zona Pellucida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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