Berlinguer, Fiammetta and Leoni, Giovanni Giuseppe and Bogliolo, Luisa and Bebbere, Daniela and Succu, Sara and Rosati, Irma and Ledda, Sergio and Naitana, Salvatore (2005) In vivoand in vitro fertilizing capacity of cryopreserved European mouflon [Ovis gmelini musimon] spermatozoa used to restore genetically rare and isolated populations. Theriogenology, Vol. 63 (3), p. 902-911. ISSN 0093-691X. Article.
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European mouflon sheep are an endangered species of ovidae residing primarily in the mountenous habitat of the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. The purpose of this study was to assess the fertilizing capacity of cryopreserved European mouflon spermatozoa after AI in synchronized mouflon and domestic ewes and after IVF in in vitro matured mouflon and domestic ewe oocytes collected by OPU technique. Domestic ram (Ovis aries) spermatozoa served as control. Semen was collected by artificial vagina from three mouflons and three domestic rams during the breeding season and was cryopreserved. At thawing, no significant differences in sperm viability were found between the wild and the domestic species (53.1 ± 4.6% versus 56.0 ± 4.7%) whereas the percentage of acrosomeintact sperm was lower in mouflon (55.5 ± 4.6%) than in ram semen (62.7 ± 3.1%; P < 0.05). Lambing rate did not differ between synchronized mouflon and domestic ewes (5/11 versus 8/12) after 150 and 156 days of pregnancy, respectively. After two OPU sessions, 87 and 132 oocytes were collected from three hyperstimulated mouflon and three domestic ewes. Cryopreserved/thawed semen was inseminated with an endoscope into the uterus of corresponding species during the nonbreeding season. The oocytes were matured and fertilized in vitro; 61/73 mouflon and 81/101 domestic ewe oocytes were found to be fertilized. From these, we obtained 6/61 and 17/81 blastocysts. After vitrification and thawing, the hatching rate showed no significant difference between mouflon and sheep blastocysts (4/6 versus 14/17). In conclusion, our data showed that cryopreserved mouflon spermatozoa can be successfully used to carry out a genuine and complete program of genetic restoration in small and isolated groups of European mouflons.
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