The aim of this study was to characterise the effect of seminal plasma (SP) from bulls of high or low fertility on sperm function. First, the effect of SP on the motility of fresh cauda epididymal spermatozoa (CES) and frozen-thawed ejaculated spermatozoa was assessed (Experiment 1a). Seminal plasma was then collected from bulls of known high and low fertility. Pooled CES were incubated in the SP from each bull, diluted and assessed for motility and viability on Days 1, 2, 3 and 5 after packaging as fresh semen (Experiment 1b). Also assessed were motility, kinematics, viability and mitochondrial membrane potential after thawing (Experiment 1c) as well as hypotonic resistance (Experiment 2) and fertilisation potential using in vitro fertilisation (Experiment 3). Seminal plasma increased the motility of CES (P<0.05); however, there was no effect of SP on the motility and viability of fresh CES or on CES post-thaw motility, viability and mitochondrial membrane potential (P>0.05). The hypotonic resistance of CES was reduced by SP (P<0.05), irrespective of whether the SP was from high- or low-fertility bulls. Seminal plasma from high- or low-fertility bulls had no effect on cleavage or blastocyst rates (P>0.05). In conclusion, SP affects the physiological function of CES but there is no difference between SP from high- or low-fertility bulls.
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