Evaluation of sperm motility is the single most widely used parameter to determine semen quality in mammals and aquatic species. While a good indicator for fresh sperm viability, post-thaw motility is not always effective at predicting fertilizing ability. Techniques using fluorescent dyes can assess functionality of mammalian sperm, but have not been widely applied in aquatic organisms. The eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica is an important mollusk in the United States, and cryopreservation protocols have been developed to preserve sperm and larvae to assist research and hatchery production. In this study, protocols were developed to assess sperm cell membrane integrity and mitochondrial function by flow cytometry and to assess viability of eggs by fluorescence microscopy. The fluorescent dyes SYBR 14 and propidium iodide (PI) (to assess membrane integrity) and rhodamine 123 (R123) (to assess mitochondrial membrane potential) were used to evaluate the quality of thawed oyster sperm previously cryopreserved with different cryoprotectant and thawing treatments. Membrane integrity results were correlated with motility of thawed sperm and mitochondrial membrane potential with fertilizing ability. Fluorescein diacetate (FDA) was used to assess cytotoxicity of cryoprotectant solutions and post-thaw damage to oyster eggs. The results indicated that membrane integrity (P = 0.004) and thawing treatments (P = 0.04), and mitochondrial membrane potential (P = 0.0015) were correlated with motility. Fertilizing ability was correlated with cryoprotectant treatments (P = 0.0258) and with mitochondrial membrane potential (P = 0.001). The dye FDA was useful in indicating structural integrity of fresh and thawed eggs. Exposure of eggs, without freezing, to dimethyl sulfoxide yielded higher percentages of stained eggs and fertilization rate than did exposure to propylene glycol (P = 0.002). Thawed eggs were not stained with FDA (<1%) and larvae were not produced. ?? 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Assessment of gamete quality for the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) by use of fluorescent dyes