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      Kinetics of fertilization and development, and sex ratio of bovine embryos produced using the semen of different bulls.

      Animal Reproduction Science

      Sex Ratio, Animals, veterinary, Semen Preservation, physiology, Semen, Male, Fertilization in Vitro, Fertilization, Female, Culture Techniques, embryology, Cattle

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          The between bulls variation in in vitro fertility and the shift of sex ratio towards male embryos are two problems affecting the in vitro production (IVP) of bovine embryos. Our objective was to evaluate the kinetics of fertilization, embryo development and the sex ratio of the resulting embryos using the frozen/thawed semen of four different bulls. In a first experiment, the kinetics of pronucleus (PN) formation was evaluated at 8, 12 and 18 h post-insemination (hpi). Based upon the pronuclei sizes and the distance between the two pronuclei, inseminated oocytes were classified in three PN stages. Differences between bulls were observed at each time point, but were more important at 12 hpi. At 8 and 12 hpi bull III showed a significantly faster PN evolution by comparison with the three other bulls (P<0.05), while at 18 hpi, the proportion of the three PN stages was similar to those of bulls I and IV, bull II being delayed. In a second experiment, the kinetics of in vitro embryo development was compared using time-lapse cinematography. The analysis of embryos reaching the blastocyst stage revealed significant differences in the mean time of first cleavage (range of 22.7-25.6h, P<0.05), while the lengths of the subsequent three cell cycles did not differ between bulls. The early mean time of first cleavage with bull III was associated with an early blastulation and a high blastocyst rate at Day 7, in opposition to what was observed with bull II showing a later timing of first cleavage (first cleavage 22.1 hpi versus 25.5 hpi; blastulation 140.4 hpi versus 152.5 hpi; D7 blastocyst rates: 31.3% versus 21.9%; P<0.05). In a third experiment, 65-76 Day 8 blastocysts per bull were sexed by PCR. Only blastocysts obtained with bull III showed a shift in sex ratio towards male embryos (76% male embryos; P<0.05). Such shift was already observed at the 2-cell and morula stages. In conclusion, the bull influences the kinetics of PN formation, of embryo development and the sex ratio of the embryos. Moreover, those parameters might be related.

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