Fertility potential of rabbit bucks fed maize-based diets containing graded levels of fumonisin B1

Kingsley Idahor, Gabriel Egbunike


Fumonisin B1-contaminated maize-based diets have been reported to be mycotoxic in animal species, yet more validated data and biomarkers are needed. In this study, Fumonisin B1 (FB1) infected yellow-maize was used to formulate Diets 1, 2 and 3, containing 1,700, 1,800 and 1,900µg FB1/kg diet, respectively. Sixty sexually matured bucks and does were used, but only the bucks were fed the FB1-contaminated diets for eight weeks. At the end of the feeding trial, the treated bucks were mated to the dry does that were fed FB1-free yellow maize-based diet. Effects on testis and live weight, feed utilisation, conception rate, embryo development and spermatozoa production per gram testis were monitored. Results indicated significant depression (P<0.05) in feed intake, from 546.77±12.09g/week in Diet 1 with the lowest FB1 concentration, to 509.84±21.98g/week in Diet 3 with the highest FB1 concentration in the diets. Weight gain was drastically reduced (P<0.05) from 34.13±9.32g/week in Diet 1 to 20.38±22.13g/week in Diet 3. Meanwhile, some of the untreated does were pregnant in all the treatments, indicating that FB1 concentration at 2.0mg/kg diet may not be spermaticidal and there were no abnormalities in the embryos. It was observed that the paired testis weight value in Diet 1 (3.06±0.31) was not significantly different (P>0.05) from that of Diet 3 (2.94±0.23). The testicular elements were distorted by the dietary FB1, but did not follow a definite pattern. Spermatozoa production per gram testis values (31.1 – 37.3 x 106) recorded were much higher than 24 x 106 for a healthy rabbit buck. Consequently, FB1 concentration < 2.0mg/kg diet may not affect the fertility potentials of bucks orally dosed for a relatively short period. This observation further elucidates earlier discoveries that FB1 is not a reproductive toxicant. Hence, the United States Food and Drug Administration proposed a guideline of 2.0mg total fumonisins/kg diet, to be adopted with strict adherence to safeguard healthy living.


FB1 tolerance level; feeding trial; reproductive toxicant; spermatozoa production; testicular elements.

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