Experimental evidence of a buoyant mass difference between bovine spermatozoa bearing X- and Y-chromosomes using a micromechanical resonator
Flow cytometry is to date the only commercially viable technique for sex preselection of mammalian spermatozoa, measuring the different DNA content in X- and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa. Here we present experimental evidence of a measurable difference between bovine spermatozoa bearing X- and Y-chromosomes based on their buoyant mass. Single cells of two populations of flow-cytometrically sorted spermatozoa were analyzed by means of a micromechanical resonator, consisting of a suspended doubly-clamped microcapillary. Spermatozoa buoyant mass is related to the transitory variation in vibration phase lag, caused by the passage through the sensitive area of a single sperm cell suspended in a fluid. Data analysis shows two well-separated distributions and provides evidence of the sensor capabilities to detect the buoyant mass of single cells with such accuracy to distinguish X- and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa. These preliminary results suggest the possibility to develop an intriguing technique alternative to flow cytometry in the field of sperm sorting.