doi: 10.15389/agrobiology.2019.4.723eng

UDC: 636.5:591.463.12:591.8.086.2

Supported financially by Russian Science Foundation, grant No. 16-16-04104



I.P. Novgorodova, N.A. Volkova, A.N. Vetokh, L.A. Volkova,
V.A. Bagirov, N.A. Zinovieva

Ernst Federal Science Center for Animal Husbandry, 60, pos. Dubrovitsy, Podolsk District, Moscow Province, 142132 Russia, e-mail (✉ corresponding author),,,,

Novgorodova I.P.
Volkova L.A.
Volkova N.A.
Bagirov V.A.
Vetokh A.N.
Zinovieva N.A.

Received December 5, 2018


Male sex cells are unique objects for scientific research in the field of genetics and physiology and in the study of the development biological basis in animal husbandry. Maturation and differentiation processes in male animals and birds germ cells are of great interest for comparative embryology, developmental biology, medicine and biotechnology. Quails characterized by early puberty and a short generation period are perspective for these experimental works. The greatest interest is the use of spermatogonia, the testes stem cells which are currently being actively studied as promising targets for the introduction of recombinant DNA in obtaining transgenic individuals. However, the morphology of germ cells from male poultry in their formation process is not fully covered. For the first time, we describe in detail the histological features of spermatogenical quail epithelium tissue at different stages of spermatogenesis and the dynamics of spermatogonial testis cells populations in this study. The aim of the study was to identify age-related features of spermatogenesis associated with the dynamics of the different cell type development in the epithelial spermatogenous layer of the seminiferous tubules in quail. For this, we examined the histological structure of the testes in quail (Coturnix coturnix) of the Estonian breed at the age of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, and 24 weeks. In each age group, there were 10 males. Testis tissue was fixed in Bouins’s solution, dehydrated in alcohols of increasing concentration and embedded in paraffin. Five to six micron histological sections were stained with hematoxylin-eosin. The composition of spermatogenic cells and their ratio in the seminiferous tubules was investigated. At least 30 seminiferous tubules were examined from each male. The diameter of the seminiferous tubules in the quail testes changed during ontogenesis and at the age of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12 and 24 weeks reaching 42±1, 71±2, 91±2, 117±2, 237±4, 278±5, 28 ±7 and 291±6 µm, respectively. Sertoli cells and generative cells were parts of cell population of the quail seminiferous tubules at different stages of differentiation, i.e. spermatogonia, spermatocytes, spermatids and sperm cell maturation. The number of spermatogenic cells inside the seminiferous tubules increased with age (p < 0.01) and was 18±1, 24±1, 58±4, 80±6, 249±16, 587±34, 658±24 and 540±41 in quails aged 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12 and 24 weeks, respectively. In 1-week aged quails, Sertoli cells dominate in seminiferous tubules (12±1 per seminiferous tubule) while spermatogonia are few, 1 to 4 cells per tubule. The number of spermatogonia increases with age. The percentage of spermatogonia is maximum in 3-week aged birds, 76±2 % of the total number of spermatogenic cells. In 4-week aged quails, primary and secondary spermatocytes are visualized in the seminiferous tubules, and from week 5 spermatids are found. At the age of 5 weeks, we detected single spermatozoa, the number of which increased in the quail semen tubules by the 6-week age. Thus, the quails’ age from 1 to 3 weeks is optimal for manipulating spermatogonia as targets for introducing recombinant DNA in order to obtain transgenic offspring or biological material to preserve the genetic resources of farm birds in cryobanks.

Keywords: quail, testes, Sertoli cells, spermatogenesis, spermatogonia.



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