Embryo technologies supporting modern cattle breeding strategies

EMBRYOTECH Embryo technologies






Embryo transfer related technologies have been well established in Finland over the last 15 years along with the ASMO nucleus herd. Due to well functioning infrastructure for embryo flushings and transfers, embryo collections and transfers are done routinely in ASMO and on dairy farms. For example during 2012, 141 and 249 embryo collections were made in ASMO and on dairy farms, respectively. Sex-sorted semen was used in 5% and 36% of the flushings in ASMO and on dairy farms, respectively. The average embryo recovery rates were 7.1 and 5.9 for heifers and 8.7 and 5.7 for cows using unsorted semen and X-sorted spermatozoa, respectively. Total of 844 and 2810 embryos were transferred in 2012 in Finland as fresh and after cryopreservation, respectively. Laboratory facilities for in vitro embryo production and genomic analyses of embryos have also been well established at Luke in Jokioinen. The first OPU calf was born 1999 and the first calf after marker-assisted selection 2003. Due to increasing interest of the breeding industry towards OPU embryo production and genomic selection of embryos as tools to increase desired offspring from high quality animals, optimization of the used methodology is necessary. The aim of this proposed research project is to find cost-effective tools and methods for in vitro embryo production using oocytes collected from ASMO heifers by ovum pick up (OPU) and for genomic selection in embryos collected from ASMO heifers by embryo flushing. The suggested research focuses specifically on i) finding reliable tools for prediction of the suitability of oocyte and embryo donors evaluated as numbers of oocytes and embryos recovered, ii) optimization of in vitro embryo production system for small groups of oocytes and embryos from OPU collections aiming at biopsy and cryopreservation and iii) optimization of genomic selection in embryos.