Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1399–1405 | Cite as

Dietary carotenoids do not improve motility or antioxidant capacity in cichlid fish sperm

  • Melissa Sullivan
  • Alexandria C. Brown
  • Ethan D. Clotfelter


Carotenoids may act as antioxidants under many circumstances. We examined the importance of carotenoids as antioxidants in the gonads of male convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata), a species in which males lack the carotenoid-based breeding coloration that characterizes females. Male fish were fed one of four diets that included different combinations of xanthophyll and carotene carotenoids, and then we measured carotenoid concentration of the gonads, gonadosomatic index (GSI), sperm motility, and the antioxidant capacity of the gonads. Significant differences were found in gonadal carotenoid content among treatment groups, suggesting that dietary carotenoids were indeed sequestered in the gonads. There were no differences among diet groups, however, in GSI, sperm motility, or gonadal antioxidant capacity. These findings suggest that carotenoids are required only in small amounts in the testes of male convict cichlids or that they play a limited role in protecting sperm from oxidative damage.


Convict cichlid Sperm motility Oxidative stress Carotene Xanthophyll 



Reactive oxygen species


Tricaine methanesulfonate


High-performance liquid chromatography


Phosphate-buffered saline


Gonadosomatic index


Computer-assisted sperm analysis


Curvilinear velocity


Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity


2,2′-Azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)


Analysis of variance



The authors would like to thank Matthew Cahn for his assistance with the HPLC analysis of the diets, and the National Science Foundation (IOS-1051598) and the Webster Fund of the Department of Biology at Amherst College for research funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Sullivan
    • 1
  • Alexandria C. Brown
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ethan D. Clotfelter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, McGuire Life Sciences BuildingAmherst CollegeAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Department of EmbryologyCarnegie Institute of WashingtonBaltimoreUSA

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