Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


How to preserve rhino sperm?

Catherine Reid has chosen a rather unusual topic for her doctoral thesis: The young veterinary from the United States investigates different ways of preserving rhino sperm. She is part of the team of Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. His group, together with experts from Germany, Austria and Hungary, was the first to successfully artificially inseminate a rhino. „My colleagues used fresh sperm of a male rhino that lived in the same zoo “, says Reid. Thus, the fertility of the sperm cells was not impaired.

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
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>