Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)
Thematic Section: 36th Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Embryo Technology Society (SBTE)

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and genome editing to support a sustainable livestock

Alejo Menchaca

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Abstract: This article provides an overview of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and genome engineering to improve livestock production systems for the contribution of global sustainability. Most ruminant production systems are conducted on grassland conditions, as is the case of South American countries that are leaders in meat and milk production worldwide with a well-established grass-feed livestock. These systems have many strengths from an environmental perspective and consumer preferences but requires certain improvements to enhance resource efficiency. Reproductive performance is one of the main challenges particularly in cow-calf operations that usually are conducted under adverse conditions and thus ART can make a great contribution. Fixed-time artificial insemination is applied in South America in large scale programs as 20 to 30% of cows receive this technology every year in each country, with greater calving rate and significant herd genetic gain occurred in this region. Sexed semen has also been increasingly implemented, enhancing resource efficiency by a) obtaining desired female replacement and improving animal welfare by avoiding newborn male sacrifice in dairy industry, or b) alternatively producing male calves for beef industry. In vitro embryo production has been massively applied, with this region showing the greatest number of embryos produced worldwide leading to significant improvement in herd genetics and productivity. Although the contribution of these technologies is considerable, further improvements will be required for a significant livestock transformation and novel biotechnologies such as genome editing are already available. Through the CRISPR/Cas-based system it is possible to enhance food yield and quality, avoid animal welfare concerns, overcome animal health threats, and control pests and invasive species harming food production. In summary, a significant enhancement in livestock productivity and resource efficiency can be made through reproductive technologies and genome editing, improving at the same time profitability for farmers, and global food security and sustainability.


FTAI, MOET, PIV, sex-sorted semen, CRISPR


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