Assessment of sperm motility in livestock: perspectives based on sperm swimming conditions in vivo
Evaluation of sperm motility is well-established in farm animals for quickly selecting ejaculates for semen processing into insemination doses and for evaluating the quality of preserved semen. Likewise, sperm motility is a fundamental parameter used by spermatologists in basic and applied science. Motility is commonly assessed using computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA). Recent increases in computational power, as well as utilization of mobile CASA systems and open-source CASA programs, broaden the possibilities for motility evaluation. Despite this technological progress, the potential of computer-generated motility data to assess male fertility remains challenging and may be limited. Relevance for fertility assessment could be improved if measurement conditions would more closely mimic the in vivo situation. Hence, this review is focused on the current trends of automated semen assessment in livestock and explores perspectives for future use with respect to the physiological and physical conditions encountered by sperm in the female reproductive tract. Validation of current CASA systems with more complex, microfluidic-based devices mimicking the female reproductive tract environment could improve the value of sperm kinematic data for assessing the fertilizing capacity of semen samples, not only for application in livestock but also for use in conducting assisted reproduction techniques in other species.