Catherine Reid’s task, supervised by team member Dr. Robert Hermes, is to look for new ways to preserve rhino sperm so that it can be used after months of preservation with minimal losses of fertility. A far-fetched topic for scientific work? Not at all, stresses Catherine Reid. The cryo-conservation of rhino sperm is very important for the conservation of threatened species. Catherine Reid: „Statistics show that the reproduction rate of captive White Rhinos is only about 8 per cent.” In European zoos, 55 per cent of all female animals are in the reproductive age, but so far, only 15 per cent of these animals have reproduced; most of them only once. „These numbers show that the population is not self-sustaining”, says Reid. All the more important is a way to conserve the sperm from male rhinos.
Asked, whether the team could not continue its work with fresh sperm, Reid answers: „This would limit the breeding possibilities.“ If the team used only fresh sperm, a suitable bull – fertile and not related to the female – must be nearby. That is not always the case. So, rhinos have to be transported over far distances for breeding projects. That is expensive and risky for the animals, and the chances of success are not very large. So far, an artificial fertilization was successful only twice world wide, and natural mating is rare. Particularly worrisome: The rarest rhino species – for instance the Sumatra Rhino and the Northern White Rhino – reproduce rarely in captivity. All the more important is a successful preservation of sperm cells by freezing. Thus, the sperm could be used after the death of a bull, livestock transports for mating could be abandoned, and large distances could be bridged by sperm transport. „Additionally, we could introduce new genes from wildlife populations into the breeding programmes of zoos without taking animals from the wilderness“, says Catherine Reid.
Now, what exactly does Ms. Reid investigate? In simple words, she is studying two different methods of freezing. „You can freeze sperm cells very fast with liquid nitrogen or you can freeze cells in two steps by first cooling them gradually“, says Reid. The fast method requires small quantities of sperm and can lead to crystallization which destroys cells or impairs their fertility. Therefore, she is working, together with her colleagues and supervisors at the IZW, on a slower freezing method that avoids crystallization and that can freeze larger quantities. First, the sperm cells are cooled down to 5 degrees Celsius, then the temperature is lowered to minus 50 degrees centigrade. „Beyond that, we are testing different additives to improve the fertility of the sperm celles after thawing.“
The scientist is working in Berlin with a scholarship from the local parliament (“Abgeordnetenhaus”). Recently, she presented her research project to experts from the foundation. It convinced the experts, and the foundation called “Studienstiftung des Berliner Abgeordnetenhauses” extended the scholarship.
Josef Zens | alfa
Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences