The objectives of this study were: (1) to evaluate the effect of sire on the time from insemination to first cleavage following insemination in vitro and the relationship of this parameter to field fertility and (2) to establish the relationship between the kinetics of cleavage in vitro and oocyte developmental competence for bulls of known field fertility. Frozen semen from six bulls with 150-day non-return rates ranging from 57-78% was used. In experiment 1, after insemination with semen from one of the six bulls, presumptive zygotes were transferred to IVC in droplets of synthetic oviduct fluid. Droplets were examined at 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, 42, and 48 hr after insemination and the number of cleaved oocytes was recorded. Blastocyst yield was recorded on Days 6-, 7-, and 8-post insemination. In experiment 2, culture droplets were examined at 30, 36, and 48 hr after insemination. At each time point, the number of cleaved embryos was recorded and these embryos were transferred into new droplets and were cultured separately for the duration of the experiment. The proportion of embryos developing to the blastocyst stage was recorded for each of the groups for each bull. The best predictor of field fertility was a model containing 33-hpi-cleavage percentage only (r = 0.689, P < 0.0001). There was also a significant correlation between blastocyst yield and non-return rate, with Day 7 blastocyst yield having the highest correlation (r = 0.356), although this was relatively low in comparison. In experiment 2, irrespective of sire, a significantly higher proportion of those early-cleaving oocytes (before 30 hpi) developed to blastocysts than those cleaving later. In most cases, a higher proportion of blastocysts derived from early-cleaving oocytes hatched from the zona pellucida suggesting that such blastocysts are of superior quality to those derived from late-cleaving oocytes. In conclusion these data confirm our earlier observations that earliest cleaving zygotes are more competent in terms of development to the blastocyst stage than those that cleave later. This phenomenon is independent of the sire used. However, we have demonstrated that the kinetics of early embryonic development as measured by the timing of the first cleavage division post insemination vary between different bulls and that these differences can be used to discriminate between bulls of high and low bull field fertility.
University College Dublin ->