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Exposure to high ambient temperatures alters embryology in rabbits

Abstract

High ambient temperatures are a determining factor in the deterioration of embryo quality and survival in mammals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of heat stress on embryo development, embryonic size and size of the embryonic coats in rabbits. A total of 310 embryos from 33 females in thermal comfort zone and 264 embryos of 28 females in heat stress conditions were used in the experiment. The traits studied were ovulation rate, percentage of total embryos, percentage of normal embryos, embryo area, zona pellucida thickness and mucin coat thickness. Traits were measured at 24 and 48 h post-coitum (hpc); mucin coat thickness was only measured at 48 hpc. The embryos were classified as zygotes or two-cell embryos at 24 hpc, and 16-cells or early morulae at 48 hpc. The ovulation rate was one oocyte lower in heat stress conditions than in thermal comfort. Percentage of normal embryos was lower in heat stress conditions at 24 hpc (17.2%) and 48 hpc (13.2%). No differences in percentage of zygotes or two-cell embryos were found at 24 hpc. The embryo development and area was affected by heat stress at 48 hpc (10% higher percentage of 16-cells and 883 μm2 smaller, respectively). Zona pellucida was thicker under thermal stress at 24 hpc (1.2 μm) and 48 hpc (1.5 μm). No differences in mucin coat thickness were found. In conclusion, heat stress appears to alter embryology in rabbits.

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Acknowledgements

This experiment was supported by the National Research Plan projects AGL2011-29831-C03-02 and GVPRE/2008/145.

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Correspondence to M. L. García.

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García, M.L., Argente, M.J. Exposure to high ambient temperatures alters embryology in rabbits. Int J Biometeorol 61, 1555–1560 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-017-1334-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-017-1334-0

Keywords

  • Embryonic coat
  • Embryonic development
  • Heat stress
  • Rabbit