In Experiment 1, different vacuum pressures (30, 50, 70 and 90 mm Hg) were used to aspirate 4156 bovine follicles in vitro, to assess their effect on flow rate and the recovery, morphology and blastocyst formation of the recovered oocytes. Cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) were classified according to the morphology of the cumulus cells. Data were analyzed using Chi Square analysis. Overall recovery rate declined as the aspiration pressure increased above 50 mm Hg (P<0.05). The recovery rate of Grade 1 oocytes decreased significantly (P<0.05) as the vacuum pressure increased with a corresponding increase in the number of denuded oocytes recovered (P<0.05). The blastocyst yield, expressed as a percentage of recovered COCs decreased significantly as the aspiration pressure increased beyond 50 mm Hg (P<0.05). In Experiment 2, the holding media (hepes- or bicarbonate-buffered TCM 199) and holding time (1 h or 5 h) did not affect the blastocyst formation of the oocytes (P>0.05). In Experiment 3, it was found that individual culture of the oocyte during fertilization or culture had a detrimental effect on the oocytes blastocyst formation (8.8% to 16% blastocyst yield on Day 8) when compared to control (31.3%). In Experiment 4, groups of 5, 10 and 25 oocytes were compared with singly cultured oocytes. There were no significant differences (P<0.05) in the blastocyst formation rate among groups of 5, 10, or 25 oocytes, but there was a significant difference between oocytes processed in groups and those processed individually. In Experiment 5, when groups of 10 oocytes were cultured in different drop sizes, there was no significant difference in cleavage rates between oocytes cultured in 100 microL (85.0%, n = 280) and in 10 microL (86.8%, n = 280) of media, but culture in 50 microL (79.3%, n = 280) resulted in cleavage rates significantly lower (P<0.05) than culture in 10 microL drops. There was no significant difference in the blastocyst formation. However there was a significant difference (P<0.05) in cell numbers of Day 8 blastocvsts, with oocytes cultured in 100 microL drops having significantly lower cell counts than oocytes cultured in 50 or 10 microL drops.
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