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Theriogenology. 2005 Jan 15;63(2):615-24.

Preselection of sex of offspring in swine for production: current status of the process and its application.

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Biotechnology and Germplasm Laboratory, ARS, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.


It is estimated that as many as 30,000 offspring, mostly cattle, have been produced in the past 5 years using AI or some other means of transport with spermatozoa sexed by flow cytometric sperm sorting and DNA as the marker of differentiation. It is well documented that the only marker in sperm that can be effectively used for the separation of X- and Y-chromosome bearing spermatozoa is DNA. The method, as it is currently used worldwide, is commonly known as the Beltsville Sperm Sexing Technology. The method is based on the separation of sperm using flow cytometric sorting to sort fluorescently (Hoechst 33342) labeled sperm based on their relative content of DNA within each population of X- and Y-spermatozoa. Currently, sperm can be produced routinely at a rate of 15 million X- and an equal number of Y-sperm per hour. The technology is being applied in livestock, laboratory animals, and zoo animals; and in humans with a success rate of 90-95% in shifting the sex ratio of offspring. Delivery of sexed sperm to the site of fertilization varies with species. Conventional AI, intrauterine insemination, intra-tubal insemination, IVF with embryo transfer and deep intrauterine insemination are effectively used to obtain pregnancies dependent on species. Although sperm of all species can be sorted with high purity, achieving pregnancies with the low numbers of sperm needed for commercial application remains particularly elusive in swine. Deep intrauterine insemination with 50-100 million sexed boar sperm per AI has given encouragement to the view that insemination with one-fiftieth of the standard insemination number will be sufficient to achieve pregnancies with sexed sperm when specialized catheters are used. Catheter design, volume of inseminate, number of sexed sperm are areas where further development is needed before routine inseminations with sexed sperm can be conducted in swine. Cryopreservation of sex-sorted sperm has been routinely applied in cattle. Although piglets have been born from frozen sex-sorted boar sperm, freezing and processing protocols in combination with sex-sorted sperm are not yet optimal for routine use. This review will discuss the most recent results and advances in sex-sorting swine sperm with emphasis on what developments must take place for the sexing technology to be applied in commercial practice.

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