Animal in Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Development

  • Barry D. Bavister
Part of the Developmental Biology book series (DEBO, volume 4)


There are considerable disparities in the quality and quantity of information available on fertilization and embryonic development in mammals compared with invertebrates (Bavister, 1980). In invertebrates, the availability of vast numbers of gametes and embryos for experimental studies and the natural occurrence of external fertilization greatly simplify duplication of normal events under laboratory conditions. By contrast, minute numbers of eggs and embryos are produced in each cycle by female mammals, and their development in the protected environment afforded by the female reproductive tract presents a formidable obstacle to research. It is remarkably difficult to elucidate the precise nature of the environment provided to the gametes and embryos by the female tract, and thus to duplicate these conditions in the laboratory. As a result, most attempts to examine mammalian gamete interactions and early embryo development under experimental conditions have utilized some form of culture solution that has been devised empirically or one that is appropriate for culture of somatic cells. Such conditions are most likely less than optimal for supporting normal fertilization and embryogenesis. This chapter examines some of the major problems inherent in experimental studies of mammalian early development and reviews some recent attempts to increase understanding of fertilization mechanisms using in vitro techniques. As much as possible, results of in vitro experiments are related to the natural situation in which fertilization and embryonic development take place.


Follicular Fluid Seminal Plasma Zona Pellucida Acrosome Reaction Golden Hamster 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry D. Bavister
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Wisconsin Regional Primate Research CenterMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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