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Theriogenology. 2009 Jan 1;71(1):113-22. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.09.004. Epub 2008 Oct 21.

The importance and potential of artificial insemination in CANDES (companion animals, non-domestic, endangered species).

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  • 1Zoological Society of San Diego, Conservation and Research for Endangered Species, Escondido, CA 92027, USA.


Artificial insemination (AI) is the least invasive assisted reproductive technology, and is therefore of great interest to breeders of companion animals, non-domestic, and endangered species (CANDES). This most fundamental artificial breeding technique circumvents physical or behavioral impediments to natural mating and provides the means for genetic exchange between populations without transfer of live animals. In addition, because oocytes grow, mature and are fertilized in vivo and embryos are not subjected to in vitro culture conditions, AI eliminates the epigenetic effects on the female gamete that are inherent in more invasive assisted reproductive technologies. Although the management of CANDES differs significantly from current livestock husbandry practices, the cattle industry is a powerful example of the potential for AI to enhance the genetic health and sustainability of animal populations. Ultimately, successful AI requires sperm of adequate quality and quantity, oocytes that have attained nuclear maturation and cytoplasmic competence, operational gamete transport systems, accurate timing, and proper placement of sperm in the female reproductive tract. Increased understanding of semen collection, evaluation and preservation techniques, estrus synchronization and superovulation, estrus and ovulation detection, and insemination instrumentation is needed for each CANDES before AI success rates will approach those of the livestock industry. Concentrated, collaborative research in these areas must be encouraged among private breeders, universities and zoological institutions to realize the full potential of AI in the management of CANDES.

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