Navigation Links
Preserving sperm vital to saving 'snot otter' salamanders

EAST LANSING, Mich. The hellbender salamander known affectionately as a snot otter or devil dog is one of America's unique giant salamander species. For unexplained reasons, most hellbender populations have rapidly declined as very little reproduction has occurred in recent decades.

Working with researchers from the Nashville Zoo and Antwerp Zoo in Belgium, veterinarians from Michigan State University are helping develop conservation techniques to sample and freeze the sperm from some of the last surviving salamanders. The international consortium's work aims to enable future re-stocking of genetically viable hellbenders back to their streams and rivers, ensuring the survival of the species.

The largest salamander found in North America, the hellbender can grow to up to 30 inches long and live 30 years or more. They live in a geographic range from Arkansas northeast to New York and have remained relatively unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs.

Dalen Agnew and Carla Carleton from MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine are focusing specifically on evaluating the freezing techniques, known as cryopreservation, developed to keep the hellbender sperm viable.

"The hellbender in the United States is becoming endangered, and to make things more difficult, they are very secretive," said Agnew, a member of the college's Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation. "The best we can tell, in most hellbender populations there has been no breeding in the wild for several decades."

While other researchers figure out why environmental degradation, habitat loss and biological changes are all possibilities the team led by Robert Browne of the Antwerp Zoo along with Sally Nofs and Dale McGinnity of the Nashville Zoo is making sure the species does not go extinct, preserving its genetic diversity.

"The work between Nashville Zoo and Michigan State University for the cryopreservation of hellbender sperm is a global model for the genetic management of threatened amphibians," Browne said.

McGinnity, the Nashville Zoo's curator of ectotherms, initiated the project so the frozen salamander sperm can produce hellbenders genetically adapted to their local environments and fit for restocking. Browne developed the cryopreservation protocols, implemented by Nofs an MSU veterinary graduate and veterinary services director at the Nashville Zoo and her colleague Michael Kirk with captive animals from the zoo. Agnew and Carleton are testing the frozen salamander sperm to ensure the species can be resurrected, if needed.

"This process of cryopreservation is very species specific," Agnew said. "It's a lot like cooking; each species needs its own ingredients and formula. We're basically applying modified fish technologies to amphibians."

So far, the team has seen some promising results: Early tests show researchers have been successful in keeping frozen sperm alive for six months, which indicates the sperm could survive for hundreds of years in cold storage. That will allow the team to establish a collaborative gene banking program for the creature.

"Dr. Agnew and Dr. Carleton's expertise and equipment were invaluable in helping us validate and document the results of our initial cryopreservation trials with the hellbender semen," Nofs said.

As part of the project, the research team also is studying the comparative structure of hellbender sperm using electron photomicrographs, in collaboration with the MSU Center for Advanced Microscopy. This will allow scientists to learn more about the characteristics of the unique amphibian and to ensure its survival.


Contact: Jason Cody
Michigan State University

Related biology news :

1. Alpine rivers hold important clues for preserving biodiversity and coping with climate change
2. Low sperm count may be associated with prenatal testosterone excess
3. Proteins in sperm unlock understanding of male infertility says new study
4. The more promiscuous the female, the speedier the sperm
5. CSHL scientists discover how companion cells to sperm protect them from genetic damage
6. The egg makes sure that sperm dont get too old
7. Spread your sperm the smart way
8. ESHREs workshop on freezing of human sperm, eggs and embryos in Athens
9. MMS and NOAA scientists study prey of Gulf of Mexico sperm whales
10. Molecular study could push back angiosperm origins
11. Females shut down male-male sperm competition in leafcutter ants
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Preserving sperm vital to saving 'snot otter' salamanders
(Date:11/12/2015)...  Arxspan has entered into an agreement with ... use of its ArxLab cloud-based suite of biological ... will support the institute,s efforts to electronically manage ... internally and with external collaborators. The ArxLab suite ... Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound and assay registration, ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... About signature verification Signature ... identify and verify the identity of an individual ... secure and accurate method of authentication and is ... because each individual,s signature is highly unique. Signature ... signature of an individual is compared and matched ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International has been ... provide preclinical development services to the National Cancer Institute ... will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, ... preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer ... The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS; TSX: ... prospects remain fundamentally strong and highlights the following ... received DSMB recommendation to continue the ZoptEC Phase ... the final interim efficacy and safety data ... men with heavily pretreated castration- and Taxane-resistant prostate ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Nov. 25, 2015 ... that management will participate in a fireside chat discussion ... New York . The discussion is ... Time. .  A replay will ... Contact:  Media Contact:McDavid Stilwell  , Julie NormartVP, Corporate ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... company uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. ... AngelList syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States ... of the 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green ... or her work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an ...
Breaking Biology Technology: