Twenty rabbit bucks of 9 months of age were used to evaluate semen quality of two lines of New Zealand rabbit bucks selected for litter size at weaning (A line) and growth rate from weaning to slaughter (R line). The morphological semen characteristics indicated that the A line spermatozoa had greater acrosome integrity (+3.6 percentage units; P<0.01) and smaller sperm head size (for example, ?1.46 ?m2 for sperm head area) than in the R line. Seminal functional traits were also significantly higher for the A line (+13.4 percentage units for viability, +10.6 percentage units for hypo-osmotic swelling test (HOST) and +3.3 g/L for seminal plasma protein. However, no differences were detected between lines for motility parameters and seminal plasma protein electrophoretic profiles. Both lines had the same twelve bands with the following molecular weights to the nearest 1 kD: 124, 117, 99, 86, 75, 62, 40, 32, 21, 19, 10 and 6 kD. A relationship (r=0.308 for A line and 0.359 for R line; P<0.01) was found between the integrity of the plasmatic membrane (viability rate) and tail membrane (HOST) of the spermatozoa in the A line, but not in the R line, which had greater sperm head size. There was also a significant positive correlation coefficient between sperm concentration and either viability or some kinetic traits (r=0.567 and 0.575 for VCL, r=0.584 and 0.561 for VSL and r=0.588 and 0.588 for VAP, for A and R lines, respectively; P<0.001). We concluded that the A line seems to have better semen characteristics than the R line. We also found an interesting correlation among the seminal morphological, functional and kinetic traits, which could possibly be used to facilitate semen evaluation.
rabbit; semen profile; selection criteria; hypo-osmotic swelling test; seminal plasma protein