Spermatogenesis in heterozygotes for Robertsonian chromosomal rearrangements from natural populations of the common shrew, Sorex araneus

S. Garagna, M. Zuccotti, J. B. Searle, C. A. Redi, P. J. Wilkinson

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Twenty-two adult male common shrews were collected from 5 sites in the vicinity of Oxford (UK) close to the zone of hybridization between two karyotypic races. The shrews were subdivided into 3 karyotypic categories: homozygotes, simple Robertsonian heterozygotes (which form one or more trivalents at prophase I of meiosis) and complex Robertsonian heterozygotes (which form a quadrivalent). The ratio of primary spermatocytes to round spermatids was determined from transverse sections of seminiferous tubules, to provide an indication of germ cell death. In no individual was there severe germ cells loss. Homozygotes had the highest mean spermatocyte: spermatid ratio and complex heterozygotes the lowest, but there was substantial individual variation and the differences were not significant. Complex heterozygotes also had a higher proportion of defective seminiferous tubules and lower testis weights than did other categories and it is reasonable to propose that, as a population, complex heterozygotes have reduced fitness relative to other categories on the basis of spermatogenic performance. However, there is no evidence from studies of spermatogenesis that simple Robersonian heterozygotes are less fit than homozygotes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Reproduction and Fertility
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Embryology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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