Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/12/2010
Publication Date: 3/20/2011
Citation: Bakst, M.R. 2011. Role of the oviduct in maintaining sustained fertility in hens. Journal of Animal Science. 89:1323-1329.
Interpretive Summary: Poultry and, to a much lesser extent, captive bird populations are bred by artificial insemination (AI). Technology in this area has not advanced significantly in the past two decades. Part of the reason is the absence of significant new information regarding the process of fertilization in birds. However, since the mid-90’s new and diverse observations have been published addressing the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the fertilization process in birds. These new observations include: the role of the sperm’s capacity to penetrate a viscous medium (oviductal secretions) in relation to which sperm reach the site of fertilization in the hen’s oviduct; differences in the ability of various breeds and lines of poultry to store sperm in the hen’s oviduct; and, roles of the immune system and specialized cells in the oviduct that secrete neuro-endocrine hormones on which sperm participate in the fertilization process. The objective of this presentation is to review and integrate these recent observations into a comprehensive understanding of the cellular and molecular events influencing the fertilization process in birds, with particular emphasis on the chicken and turkey. Such information will provide the groundwork for further advances in AI technology. The information in this manuscript will useful to other poultry scientists and those individuals interested in semen storage and fertility issues in the poultry industry.
Technical Abstract: Since the mid-90’s new and diverse observations have been published addressing the cellular and molecular mechanisms orchestrating oviductal sperm selection and storage in poultry and selected non-domestic species. These include: role of sperm mobility in selection and transport; SST numbers in different poultry species and broiler lines of high and low fertility; roles of the immune system and possibly neuro-endocrine-like cells in sperm selection and storage; and, the roles of sperm ATP and a fluid movement in the SST lumen contributing to sperm release from the SSTs. The objective of this presentation is to review and integrate these observations into a comprehensive understanding of the cellular and molecular events influencing the fate of sperm in the hen’s oviduct, particularly with regard to sperm selection and storage in the vagina.