Modification of sperm fatty acid composition during epididymal maturation in bats

in Reproduction
Correspondence should be addressed to N J Fasel; Email:

Biochemical properties of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are fundamental to sperm movements. Amongst all adjustments operated during epididymal maturation, sperm membrane lipid composition is remodelled. Specifically, the proportion of PUFAs usually increases from the caput towards the cauda epididymidis. In mammals, PUFAs are predominantly acquired through the diet, which can consequently impact male fertility. We aimed at analysing to what extent n-6 and n-3 PUFAs are incorporated into sperm in the Seba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata), and at demonstrating the effect of the sperm fatty acid composition on sperm mobility. We therefore provided food varying in fatty acid composition to males of C. perspicillata and measured the fatty acid composition and mobility traits in spermatozoa collected from the caput and cauda epididymides. We found that n-6 and n-3 PUFAs and saturated fatty acids were significantly related to sperm velocity but not to the proportion of progressive sperm (i.e. motility). Concomitant to an increase in sperm velocity, the level of fatty acid saturation increased from the caput to the cauda epididymidis, while the proportion of PUFAs remained similar along the epididymis. A reduction in n-6 PUFAs counterbalanced an increase in n-3 PUFAs. The food treatments did not affect the sperm fatty acid composition. Our results suggest that a precise endogenous control rather than dietary effects determines sperm fatty acid composition in C. perspicillata.


    Society for Reproduction and Fertility

Related Articles

Article Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 272 272 38
Full Text Views 40 40 3
PDF Downloads 17 17 3



  • View in gallery

    Proportion of PUFA in the sperm membrane from C. perspicillata. Median values per dietary groups (n-3 vs n-6 PUFAs) and per epididymis parts (caput and cauda) are indicated with a segment.

  • View in gallery

    Curvilinear velocity (VCL) of caput and cauda sperm of C. perspicillata related to the n-3 PUFA, n-6 PUFA and SFA proportions over the total amount of FAMEs in the sperm cells.


AitkenRJNixonBLinMKoppersAJLeeYHBakerMA 2007 Proteomic changes in mammalian spermatozoa during epididymal maturation. Asian Journal of Andrology 9 554564. (

AngrimaniDSRNichiMLosanoJDALucioCFVeigaGALFrancoMVMJVannucchiCI 2017 Fatty acid content in epididymal fluid and spermatozoa during sperm maturation in dogs. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 8 18. (

ArnoldWGiroudSValencakTGRufT 2015 Ecophysiology of omega fatty acids: a lid for every jar. Physiology 30 232240. (

AveldañoMIRotsteinNPVermouthNT 1992 Lipid remodelling during epididymal maturation of rat spermatozoa. Enrichment in plasmenylcholines containing long-chain polyenoic fatty acids of the n-9 series. Biochemical Journal 283 235241.

BonaccorsoFJGushTJ 1987 Feeding behaviour and foraging strategies of captive phyllostomid fruit bats: an experimental study. Journal of Animal Ecology 56 907920.

BrinskoSPVarnerDDLoveCCBlanchardTLDayBCWilsonME 2005 Effect of feeding a DHA-enriched nutriceutical on the quality of fresh, cooled and frozen stallion semen. Theriogenology 63 15191527. (

BurnessGCasselmanSJSchulte-HosteddeAIMoyesCDMontgomerieR 2004 Sperm swimming speed and energetics vary with sperm competition risk in bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 56 6570. (

BurrGOBurrMM 1930 On the nature and role of the fatty acids essential in nutrition. Journal of Biological Chemistry 86 587621.

CumminsJMWoodallPF 1985 On mammalian sperm dimensions. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 75 153175. (

DacheuxJ-LDacheuxF 2014 New insights into epididymal function in relation to sperm maturation. Reproduction 147 R27R42. (

delBarco-TrilloJRoldanERS 2014 Effects of metabolic rate and sperm competition on the fatty-acid composition of mammalian sperm. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27 5562. (

delBarco-TrilloJMateoRRoldanERS 2015 Differences in the fatty-acid composition of rodent spermatozoa are associated to levels of sperm competition. Biology Open 4 466473. (

EngqvistL 2005 The mistreatment of covariate interaction terms in linear model analyses of behavioural and evolutionary ecology studies. Animal Behaviour 70 967971. (

EsmaeiliVShahverdiAHMoghadasianMHAlizadehAR 2015 Dietary fatty acids affect semen quality: a review. Andrology 3 450461. (

EstienneMJHarperAFCrawfordRJ 2008 Dietary supplementation with a source of omega-3 fatty acids increases sperm number and the duration of ejaculation in boars. Theriogenology 70 7076. (

FairSDoyleDNDiskinMGHennessyAAKennyDA 2014 The effect of dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation of rams on semen quality and subsequent quality of liquid stored semen. Theriogenology 81 210219. (

FaselNJHelfensteinFBuffSRichnerH 2015 Electroejaculation and semen buffer evaluation in the microbat Carollia perspicillata. Theriogenology 83 904910. (

FaselNJSaladinVRichnerH 2016 Alternative reproductive tactics and reproductive success in male Carollia perspicillata (Seba’s short-tailed bat). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29 22422255. (

FaselNJWesselingCFernandezAAVallatAGlauserGHelfensteinFRichnerH 2017 Alternative reproductive tactics, sperm mobility and oxidative stress in Carollia perspicillata (Seba’s short-tailed bat). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 71 112. (

FitzpatrickJLLüpoldS 2014 Sexual selection and the evolution of sperm quality. Molecular Human Reproduction 20 11801189. (

FlemingTH 1988 The Short-Tailed Fruit Bat. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL, USA

GervasiMGViscontiPE 2017 Molecular changes and signaling events occurring in spermatozoa during epididymal maturation. Andrology 5 204218. (

GiroudSFrareCStrijkstraABoeremaAArnoldWRufT 2013 Membrane phospholipid fatty acid composition regulates cardiac SERCA activity in a hibernator, the syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus). PLoS ONE 8 e63111. (

GliozziTMZaniboniLMaldjianALuziFMaertensLCeroliniS 2009 Quality and lipid composition of spermatozoa in rabbits fed DHA and vitamin E rich diets. Theriogenology 71 910919. (

GulliverCEFriendMAKingBJClaytonEH 2012 The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in reproduction of sheep and cattle. Animal Reproduction Science 131 922. (

HaidlGOpperC 1997 Changes in lipids and membrane anisotropy in human spermatozoa during epididymal maturation. Human Reproduction 12 27202723. (

HallJCHadleyJDomanT 1991 Correlation between changes in rat sperm membrane lipids, protein, and the membrane physical state during epididymal maturation. Journal of Andrology 12 7687.

KhoKHTanimotoSInabaKOkaYMorisawaM 2001 Transmembrane cell signaling for the initiation of trout sperm motility: roles of ion channels and membrane hyperpolarization for cyclic AMP synthesis. Zoological Science 18 919928. (

KlemmeISoulsburyCDHenttonenH 2014 Contrasting effects of large density changes on relative testes size in fluctuating populations of sympatric vole species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 281 20141291. (

KollerM 2016 robustlmm: an R package for robust estimation of linear mixed-effects models. Journal of Statistical Software 75 124. (

LaskaM 1990 Food transit times and carbohydrate use in three phyllostomid bat species. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 55 4954.

LenziAPicardoMGandiniLDonderoF 1996 Lipids of the sperm plasma membrane: from polyunsaturated fatty acids considered as markers of sperm function to possible scavenger therapy. Human Reproduction Update 2 246256. (

LosdatSHelfensteinFBlountJDRichnerH 2014 Resistance to oxidative stress shows low heritability and high common environmental variance in a wild bird. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27 19902000. (

MaloAFGardeJJSolerAJGarcíaAJGomendioMRoldanERS 2005 Male fertility in natural populations of red deer is determined by sperm velocity and the proportion of normal spermatozoa. Biology of Reproduction 72 822829. (

MaranesiMCastelliniCDall’AglioCPetrucciLMattioliSBoitiCZeraniM 2018 Effects of PUFAs on animal reproduction: male and female performances and endocrine mechanisms. Phytochemistry Reviews 17 801814.

McCrackenGFWilkinsonGS 2000 Bat mating systems. In Reproductive Biology of Bats. Eds CrichtonEG & KrutzschPH. Academic Press: London, UK

MelloMSchittiniGMSeligPBergalloHG 2004 Seasonal variation in the diet of the bat Carollia perspicillata (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) in an Atlantic Forest area in southeastern Brazil. Mammalia 68 4955. (

MelvilleDFJohnstonSDMillerRRJr 2012 Flying-fox (Pteropus spp.) sperm membrane fatty acid composition, its relationship to cold shock injury and implications for cryopreservation success. Cryobiology 65 224229. (

MortimerST 1997 A critical review of the physiological importance and analysis of sperm movement in mammals. Human Reproduction Update 3 403439. (

MourvakiECardinaliRBoscoADCorazziLCastelliniC 2010 Effects of flaxseed dietary supplementation on sperm quality and on lipid composition of sperm subfractions and prostatic granules in rabbit. Theriogenology 73 629637. (

NissenHPKreyselHW 1983 Polyunsaturated fatty acids in relation to sperm motility. Andrologia 15 264269. (

OrrTJZukM 2013 Does delayed fertilization facilitate sperm competition in bats? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 67 19031913. (

ParkerGA 1970 Sperm competition and its evolutionary consequences in the insects. Biological Reviews 45 525567. (

ParksJEHammerstedtRH 1985 Developmental changes occurring in the lipids of ram epididymal spermatozoa plasma membrane. Biology of Reproduction 32 653668. (

PereiraASda RochaPASantanaJPBeltrãoRRuiz-EsparzaJFerrariSF 2018 Consumption of leaves by Carollia perspicillata (Chiroptera, Phyllostomidae): a new dimension of the species’ feeding ecology. Mammalia 82 303307. (

PinotMVanniSPagnottaSLacas-GervaisSPayetL-AFerreiraTGautierRGoudBAntonnyBBarelliH 2014 Polyunsaturated phospholipids facilitate membrane deformation and fission by endocytic proteins. Science 345 693697. (

PyttelSNimptschABöttgerJZschörnigKJakopUWegenerJMüllerKPaaschUSchillerJ 2014 Changes of murine sperm phospholipid composition during epididymal maturation determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Theriogenology 82 396402. (

RasweilerJJIVBadwaikNKMechineniKV 2010 Selectivity in the transport of spermatozoa to oviductal reservoirs in the menstruating fruit bat, Carollia perspicillata. Reproduction 140 743757. (

RenDNavarroBPerezGJacksonACHsuSShiQTillyJLClaphamDE 2001 A sperm ion channel required for sperm motility and male fertility. Nature 431 603609. (

Rodríguez-TobónAFierroRLeón-GalvánMARosadoACortés-BarberenaEArenas-RíosE 2015 Tyrosine phosphorylation as evidence of epididymal cauda participation in the sperm maturation process of Corynorhinus mexicanus bat. Acta Zoologica 97 310318. (

Rojas MoraAMeniriMGningOGlauserGVallatAHelfensteinF 2017 Antioxidant allocation modulates sperm quality across changing social environments. PLoS ONE 12 e0176385. (

StoreyBT 2008 Mammalian sperm metabolism: oxygen and sugar, friend and foe. International Journal of Developmental Biology 52 427437. (

StrzeżkJFraserLKuklińkaMDziekońskaALecewiczM 2004 Effects of dietary supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants on biochemical characteristics of boar semen. Reproductive Biology 4 271287.

StubbsCDSmithAD 1984 The modification of mammalian membrane polyunsaturated fatty acid composition in relation to membrane fluidity and function. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 779 89137. (

TourmenteMRoweMGonzález-BarrosoMMRialEGomendioMRoldanERS 2013 Postcopulatory sexual selection increases ATP content in rodent spermatozoa. Evolution 67 18381846. (

WegenerJZschörnigKOnischkeKFuchsBSchillerJMüllerK 2013 Conservation of honey bee (Apis mellifera) sperm phospholipids during storage in the bee queen – a TLC/MALDI-TOF MS study. Experimental Gerontology 48 213222. (

Wilson-LeedyJGIngermannRL 2007 Development of a novel CASA system based on open source software for characterization of zebrafish sperm motility parameters. Theriogenology 67 661672. (


Google Scholar