Antibiotics for the preservation of koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) semen
SD JOHNSTONa, D O’BOYLEb, AJ FROSTb, MR MCGOWANa, A TRIBEa and D HIGGINSc
a Division of Animal Health and Production, Wildlife Reproduction and Management Unit, School of Veterinary Science and Animal Production, The University of Queensland 4072
b Division of Veterinary Pathology and Anatomy, School of Veterinary Science and Animal Production, The University of Queensland 4072
c Currumbin Sanctuary, Currumbin, Queensland 4223
Aim To determine the normal microbial flora of the koala ejaculate and prepuce in order to select appropriate antibiotics for addition into diluents designed for the preservation of semen.
Procedure Bacteriological samples of the koala prepuce (n = 12) and ejaculate (n = 20) were submitted for microbial culture and sensitivity testing. Microbial flora of ejaculates collected by electroejaculation and artificial vagina were compared. The effects of varying concentrations of penicillin G and gentamicin on sperm motility and on the growth of bacteria in diluted semen stored at room temperature and 16°C over a 24 h period were investigated.
Results A range of bacteria was isolated from the koala prepuce and ejaculate. The predominant organisms in semen collected by electroejaculation and artificial vagina were Corynebacterium spp, none of which could be assigned to any recognised species. The addition of penicillin G and gentamicin to a PBS-based diluent at dose rates of 1000 to 2000 IU/mL and 100 to 200 µg/mL respectively, resulted in no adverse effect on sperm motility over a 24 h incubation period. Penicillin G (1000 IU/mL) and gentamicin (100 µg/mL) prevented growth of bacterial contaminants in diluted koala semen.
Conclusion By controlling the growth of bacteria in extended koala semen, penicillin G and gentamicin are likely to lengthen the period by which spermatozoa can be stored at 16°C and reduce the possibility of disease transmission during artificial insemination procedures.