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Cryobiology. 2002 Apr;44(2):122-31.

Computer simulations to determine the efficacy of different genome resource banking strategies for maintaining genetic diversity.

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  • 1Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution, Front Royal, Virginia, USA.


Genome resource banks (GRBs) and assisted reproductive techniques are increasingly recognized as useful tools for the management and conservation of biodiversity, including endangered species. Cryotechnology permits long-term storage of valuable genetic material. Although, the actual application to endangered species management requires technical knowledge about sperm freezing and thawing, a systematic understanding of the quantitative impacts of various germ plasm storage and use scenarios is also mandatory. In this study, various GRB strategies were analyzed using the historical data from three managed populations of endangered species with varied pedigrees (Eld's deer, Przewalski's horse, and Sumatran tiger). The following types of sperm banks were assessed: (1) a "Wild Bank" consisting of sperm (i.e., genes) from 5 to 10 males unrelated to the managed population and to each other; and (2) a "Best Male" bank containing sperm from only the most genetically valuable males alive in the ex situ population at the time the bank was established. These different bank types were then used to evaluate the effectiveness of different bank usage frequencies. The efficiency of each scenario was assessed by examining the level of inbreeding and gene diversity in the population. Overall, a sperm usage frequency of five times per year was determined to be the most efficient and "wild banks" were highly successful at enhancing genetic diversity. The value of a GRB established from the ex situ population depends on how closely related the banked males are to future generations. A GRB will have significantly less benefit when banked males also produce many successful offspring, or when donors are already genetically over-represented in the population at the time of establishing the GRB.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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