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Developmental Kinetics of Pig Embryos by Parthenogenetic Activation or by Handmade Cloning


  • The place where the work was carried out: Cooperation between Aarhus University and Nanjing Agricultural University

Author's address (for correspondence): Juan Li, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Weigang No. 1, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. E-mail:


The developmental kinetics of pig embryos produced by parthenogenetic activation without (PAZF) or with (PAZI) zona pellucida or by handmade cloning (HMC) was compared by time-lapse videography. After cumulus cell removal, the matured oocytes were either left zona intact (PAZI) or were made zona free by pronase digestion (PAZF) before they were activated (PA). Other matured oocytes were used for HMC based on foetal fibroblast cells. On Day 0 (day of PA or reconstruction), the embryos were cultured for 7 days in vitro in our time-lapse system. Pictures were taken every 30 min, and afterwards, each cell cycle was identified for each embryo to be analysed. Results showed that the PA embryos (both PAZF and PAZI) had shorter first cell cycle compared with HMC (17.4. 17.8 vs 23.6 h), but had a longer time length from four cell to morula stages (57.9, 53.8 vs 44.9 h). However, at the second cell cycle, PAZF embryos needed shorter time, while PAZI embryos had similar time length as HMC embryos, and both were longer than PAZF (23.4, 24.8 vs 14.6 h). Both PAZF and PAZI embryos used similar time to reach the blastocyst stage, and this was later than HMC embryos. In addition, when all of these embryos were grouped into viable (developed to blastocysts) and non-viable (not developed to blastocysts), the only difference in the time length was observed on the first cell cycle (18.6 vs 24.5 h), but not on the later cell cycles. In conclusion, our results not only give detailed information regarding the time schedule of in vitro-handled pig embryos, but also indicate that the first cell cycle could be used as a selecting marker for embryo viability. However, to evaluate the effect of the produced techniques, the whole time schedule of the pre-implantation developmental kinetics should be observed.