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Cryobiology. 2013 Oct;67(2):117-23. doi: 10.1016/j.cryobiol.2013.05.011. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Cooling rate optimization for zebrafish sperm cryopreservation using a cryomicroscope coupled with SYBR14/PI dual staining.

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Institute of Watershed Science and Environmental Ecology, Wenzhou Medical College, Wenzhou 325035, PR China.


The Zebrafish has gained increased popularity as an aquatic model species in various research fields, and its widespread use has led to numerous mutant strains and transgenic lines. This creates the need to store these important genetic materials as frozen gametes. Sperm cryopreservation in zebrafish has been shown to yield very low post-thaw survival and many protocols suffer from great variability and poor reproducibility. The present study was intended to develop a freezing protocol that can be reliably used to cryopreserve zebrafish sperm with high post-thaw survival. In particular, our study focused on cooling protocol optimization with the aid of cryomicroscopy. Specifically, sperm suspended in 8% DMSO or 4% MeOH were first incubated with live/dead fluorescent dyes (SYBR14/PI) and then cooled at various rates from 4°C to different intermediate stopping temperatures such as -10, -20, -30 and -80°C before rewarming to 35°C at the rate of 100°C/min. %PI-positive (dead) cells were monitored throughout the cooling process and this screening yielded an optimal rate of 25°C/min for this initial phase of freezing. We then tested the optimal cooling rate for the second phase of freezing from various intermediate stopping temperatures to -80°C before plunging into liquid nitrogen. Our finding yielded an optimal intermediate stopping temperature of -30°C and an optimal rate of 5°C/min for this second phase of freezing. When we further applied this two-step cooling protocol to the conventional controlled-rate freezer, the average post-thaw motility measured by CASA was 46.8 ± 6.40% across 11 males, indicating high post-thaw survival and consistent results among different individuals. Our study indicates that cryomiscroscopy is a powerful tool to devise the optimal cooling conditions for species with sperm that are very sensitive to cryodamage.


Cooling rate; Cryomicroscopy; Motility; SYBR14/PI; Zebrafish sperm

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