Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)
Thematic Section: 39th Annual Meeting of the Association of Embryo Technology in Europe (AETE)

Biobanks, offspring fitness and the influence of developmental plasticity in conservation biology

William Vincent Holt

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Mitigation of the widely known threats to the world’s biodiversity is difficult, despite the strategies and actions proposed by international agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Nevertheless, many scientists devote their time and effort to finding and implementing various solutions to the problem. One potential way forward that is gaining popularity involves the establishment of biobank programs aimed at preserving and storing germplasm from threatened species, and then using it to support the future viability and health of threatened populations. This involves developing and using assisted reproductive technologies to achieve their goals. Despite considerable advances in the effectiveness of reproductive technologies, differences between the reproductive behavior and physiology of widely differing taxonomic groups mean that this approach cannot be applied with equal success to many species. Moreover, evidence that epigenetic influences and developmental plasticity, whereby it is now understood that embryonic development, and subsequent health in later life, can be affected by peri-conceptional environmental conditions, is raising the possibility that cryopreservation methods themselves may have to be reviewed and revised when planning the biobanks. Here, I describe the benefits and problems associated with germplasm biobanking across various species, but also offer some realistic assessments of current progress and applications.


biodiversity, extinction, cryopreservation, amphibians, corals, genetic resources


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