, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 1-8
Date: 25 Jul 2012

Sexing sperm of domestic animals

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The ability to preselect or predetermine the sex of offspring prior to conception is a highly desired technological tool for assisted female breeding programs specifically for milk production, and in males, for meat production and increasing livestock numbers. The current technology is based on the well-known differences in X- and Y-sperm in the amount of DNA. The technology uses modified flow cytometric instrumentation for sorting X- and Y-bearing sperm. The method can be validated on the basis of live births, laboratory reanalysis of sorted sperm for DNA content, and embryo biopsy for sex determination. Currently, the sex of animals has been predetermined with 90 % accuracy by sexing spermatozoa. In the bovine breeding industry, flow cytometric sperm sexing has not fulfilled its original promise. Sexed sperm doses are too expensive for widespread application while the fertility of sexed sperm doses is lower than unsexed ones. Essentially all bovine sexed semen is frozen and then applied through artificial insemination (AI) or in vitro fertilization. There is still a need in the animal breeding industry to develop a technique for sperm sexing that provides sufficient spermatozoa for AI doses, does not compromise sperm fertility, and is widely applicable to a range of species. In this review, we will summarize the current state-of-the-art in sex preselection in domestic animals and some wildlife species using flow cytometric sperm-sorting of X from Y sperm based on DNA differences.

An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11250-014-0555-z.