The long-term goal of this research project is to set up efficient protocol that can be used to develop a standardized approach for vitrification of marine fish spermatozoa. In particular, the aim of the present study was to develop a vitrification protocol for sea bream (Sparus aurata) spermatozoa. To draw up the protocol, we tested two different dilution media (1% NaCl and Mounib medium), three different vitrification devices (loops, drops and cut straws), different cryoprotectants (CPs) and three different equilibration times (30, 60 and 120 s). The effect of the different vitrification procedures on spermatozoa quality was checked by measuring spermatozoa motility rate and viability, mitochondrial membrane potential and the fertilizing ability of both fresh and post-thawed gametes. The best result was obtained by dropping directly into liquid nitrogen 20 ml of spermatozoa suspension (drop-wise method) diluted with Mounib buffer containing 10% Me2SO þ 10% glycerol. The addition of a mixture of anti-freezing proteins, AFPI and AFPIII, to Mounib buffer significantly increases the spermatozoa quality following vitrification so confirming the usefulness of AFPs in improving the quality of gametes subjected to the vitrification process. The present study proves that vitrification offers an alternative to conventional sperm cryopreservation also in this species.
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