Species specificity in avian sperm: perivitelline interaction

Sarah G Stewart, Nina Bausek, Franz Wohlrab, Wolfgang J Schneider, A. Janet Horrocks, Graham J Wishart

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    29 Citations (Scopus)


    The interaction of chicken spermatozoa with the inner perivitelline layer from different avian species in vitro during a 5 min co-incubation was measured as the number of points of hydrolysis produced per unit area of inner perivitelline layer. The average degree of interaction, as a proportion of that between chicken spermatozoa and their homologous inner perivitelline layer, was: equal to or greater than 100% within Galliformes (chicken, turkey, quail, pheasant, peafowl and guineafowl); 44% within Anseriformes (goose, duck); and less than 30% in Passeriformes (Zebra Finch) and Columbiformes (collared-dove). The homologue of the putative chicken sperm-binding proteins, chicken ZP1 and ZP3, were identified by Western blotting with anti-chicken ZP1/ZP3 antibody in the perivitelline layers of all species. The functional cross-reactivity between chicken spermatozoa and heterologous inner perivitelline layer appeared to be linked to known phylogenetic distance between the species, although it was not related to the relative affinity of the different ZP3 homologues for anti-chicken ZP3. This work demonstrates that sperm interaction with the egg investment does not represent such a stringent species-specific barrier in birds as it does in mammals and marine invertebrates. This may be a factor in the frequency of hybrid production in birds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)657-663
    Number of pages7
    JournalComparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


    • Avian
    • Species specificity
    • Inner perivitelline layer
    • Spermatoza
    • ChkZP3
    • ChkZP11


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