According to Boni (2012) OPU was first established in cattle by a Dutch team (Pieterse et al., 1988). These researchers found that oocyte collection could be repeated as often as once a week without risks to health and reproductive activity. Some of the potential advantages of OPU as compared to more traditional embryo transfer include:
- The possibility of increased numbers of embryos harvested and ultimately increased number of offspring from elite females. (up to 2 to 3 times more according to Roelofsen-Vendrig et al., 1994)
- The ability to use OPU technology on pregnant donors as well as non-pregnant donors.
- Along with IVF, can maximize oocyte fertilization with rare, expensive or sexed semen.
So with all of this as a backdrop, what might the “next level” in technology-based genetic progress look like on tomorrow’s dairy farm?
We may see a significant number of both commercial and registered dairy breeders use these technologies together.
- Many will use genomics to determine the elite females on the farm or to purchase elite females from other dairy producers for use as OPU donor animals.
- They will use OPU and IVF technologies on these elite females using high genomic sires whose semen has been sexed.
- The resulting embryos will then be transferred into genetically inferior cows and heifers on the farm or transferred into “recipient” animals that have been purchased to become surrogate dams.
There are certainly obstacles to overcome before we see widespread use of these combined technologies. These include potential cost concerns, a lack of widespread understanding of the potential benefits of these technologies, and the general cautiousness of many dairy producers. However, if we could go back in time to 1937 and ask Dr. Enos Perry what he felt the greatest obstacles to the adoption of the new AI technology he brought back with him from Denmark were, his answers might have been very similar.
For additional information about genomics, OPU, and IVF and how these new technologies can impact the future dairy industry, refer to the articles and websites below.
- Humblot, P., D. Le Bourhis, S. Fritz, J. J. Colleau, C. Gonzalez, C. Guyader Joly, A. Malafosse, Y. Heyman, Y. Amigues, M. Tissier, and C. Ponsart. 2010. Reproductive technologies and genomic selection in cattle. Vet. Med. Int. doi: 10.4061/2010/192787. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963139/.
- In Vitro Fertilization as a tool for the Genetic Improvement. History and Future Prospects: http://www.invitrobrasil.com.br/pdf/artigos-publicados/perspectives-of-the-world-in-vitro-industry.pdf.
- Qi, M. Y. Yao, H. Ma, J. Wang, X. Zhao, L. Liu, X. Tang, L. Zhang, S. Zhang, and F. Sun. 2013. Transvaginal ultrasound-guided ovum pick-up (OPU) in cattle. J. Biomim. Biomater. Tissue Eng. 18: 118. doi: 10.4172/1662-100X.1000118. http://www.omicsonline.com/open-access/mir-is-associated-with-er-expression-gastric-carcinoma-of-xenografted-model-1662-100X.1000118.pdf.
- Cassell, B. 2012. Impact of genomics on dairy cattle breeding. Proc. 2012 Virginia Tech Cow College. http://www.vtdairy.dasc.vt.edu/docs/cow-colleges/2012cc/paper-23-cassell.pdf.
- del Campo, X. 2013. Genomics – Implications for Herd Efficiency. Penn State Dairy Digest. Oct. 15. http://extension.psu.edu/animals/dairy/news/2013/genomics-2013-implications-for-herd-efficiency.
- Boni, R. 2012. Ovum pick-up in cattle: a 25 yr retrospective analysis. Anim. Reprod. 9:362-369. http://www.cbra.org.br/pages/publicacoes/animalreproduction/issues/download/v9n3/pag362-369%20(AR521).pdf
- Pieterse, M. C., K. A. Kappen, T. A. Kruip , and M. A. Taverne. 1988. Aspiration of bovine oocytes during transvaginal ultrasound scanning of the ovaries. Theriogenology. 30:751-762.
- Roelofsen-Vendrig, M. W., R. Boni, Y. A. Wurth, M. C. Pieterse, and T. A. Kruip. 1994. [Possibilities of ovum pickup in cattle]. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd. 119:61-63. [Article in Dutch]