Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

In vitro embryo production in small ruminants: what is still missing?

Joanna Maria Gonçalves Souza-Fabjan; Gabriela Ramos Leal; Clara Ana Santos Monteiro; Ribrio Ivan Tavares Pereira Batista; Nathalia Oliveira Barbosa; Vicente José Figueirêdo Freitas

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In vitro embryo production (IVEP) is an extremely important tool for genetic improvement in livestock and it is the biotechnology that has grown the most recently. However, multiple ovulation followed by embryo transfer is still considered the leading biotechnology for embryo production in small ruminants. This review aimed to identify what is still missing for more efficient diffusion of IVEP in small ruminants, going through the IVEP steps and highlighting the main factors affecting the outcomes. Oocyte quality is essential for the success of IVEP and an aspect to be considered in small ruminants is their reproductive seasonality and strategies to mitigate the effect of season. The logistics for oocyte collection from live females is more complex than in cattle, and tools to simplify this collection system and/or to promote an alternative way of recovering oocytes may be an important point in this scenario. The heterogeneity of oocytes collected from growing follicles in live females or from ovaries collected from abattoirs remains a challenge, and there is a demand to standardize/homogenize the hormonal stimulatory protocols and IVM protocols for each source of oocytes. The use of sexed semen is technically possible, however the low market demand associated with the high costs of the sexing process prevents the routine use of this technique, but its higher availability is an important aspect aiming for greater dissemination of IVEP. New noninvasive approaches for embryo selection are key factors since the selection for transfer or cryopreservation is another difficulty faced among laboratories. Embryo selection is based on morphological traits, although these are not necessarily reliable in predicting pregnancy. Several issues described in this review must be considered by researchers in other to promote the diffusion of IVEP in small ruminants.


goat, IVM, IVC, sheep


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