This study investigated two hypotheses: 1) that consistent between-boar variation in frozen semen quality exists and is genetically determined, and 2) molecular markers linked to genes controlling semen freezability can be identified using amplified restriction fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) technology. Five ejaculates were collected from each of 129 boars. Semen was diluted into a commercial freezing buffer (700 mOsm/kg, 3% glycerol) and five straws (0.5 ml) per ejaculate were cryopreserved (to −5°C at 6°C/min, then −5°C to −80°C at 40°C/min). Semen was assessed for percentage of motile cells, motility characteristics (computer-aided semen analysis; CASA), plasma membrane integrity (SYBR-14 positive), and acrosome integrity (positive for fluorescein-labeled peanut agglutinin; PNA). Consistent between-boar variability was detected for postthaw sperm motility (P < 0.01), membrane integrity (P < 0.01), acrosome integrity (P < 0.01), and all CASA characteristics (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference between ejaculates (P > 0.05) or straws (P > 0.05) for any viability assessment. Multivariate pattern analysis of the viability data set highlighted three groups of boars producing spermatozoa with poor, average, and good postthaw recovery (42, 63, and 24 boars, respectively). DNA from Large White boars (n = 22) previously classified as good and poor freezers was screened for AFLP markers. Twenty-eight polymerase chain reaction primer combinations generated 2182 restriction fragment bands, of which 421 were polymorphic. Sixteen candidate genetic markers (P < 0.005) were identified by comparing the AFLP profile with semen freezability using logistic regression analysis. These findings support the hypothesis that there is a genetic basis for variation in postthaw semen quality between individuals, and that AFLP technology may be able to identify molecular markers linked to genes influencing this variation.
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