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Vertebrate reproductive science and technology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Variation of sperm head shape and tail length in a species of Australian hydromyine rodent: the spinifex hopping mouse, Notomys alexis

M. Bauer A and W. G. Breed A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Discipline of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: bill.breed@adelaide.edu.au

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 18(7) 797-805 https://doi.org/10.1071/RD06045
Submitted: 11 May 2006  Accepted: 5 July 2006   Published: 15 September 2006

Abstract

In Australia, there are around 60 species of murid rodents that occur in the subfamily Hydromyinae, most of which produce highly complex, monomorphic, spermatozoa in which the head has an apical hook together with two ventral processes containing filamentous actin and a long tail of species-specific length. One of the few exceptions to this is the spinifex hopping mouse, Notomys alexis, whose spermatozoa have previously been shown to have pleiomorphic heads. In this study, the structural organisation of the sperm head has been investigated in more detail and the variability in length of the midpiece and total length of the sperm tail has been determined for this species. The findings confirm that pleiomorphic sperm heads are invariably present in these animals and that this variability is associated with that of the nucleus, although nuclear vacuoles were not evident. The total length of the sperm tail, as well as that of the midpiece, was also highly variable both within, as well as between, individual animals. The reason(s) for this high degree of variability in sperm morphology is not known but it may relate to a relaxation of the genetic control of sperm form owing to depressed levels of inter-male sperm competition.

Extra keywords: murine rodents, sperm variation.


Acknowledgments

The authors thank Chris Leigh, Discipline Anatomical Sciences, for technical assistance and Lyn Waterhouse of Adelaide Microscopy for assistance with electron microscopy. Lisa Yelland, Discipline of Public Health, for assistance with statistical analyses, and Tavik Morgenstern of the Discipline Anatomical Sciences, The University of Adelaide, for assistance with the figures. Nora Cooper of the Western Australian Museum is thanked for the loan of the Western Australian specimens. For this study, M.B. was a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award. This study was, in part, supported by a Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide and a small ARC grant to W.B.


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