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Natalia Gañán, Adrián Sestelo, J Julián Garde, Fernando Martínez, Astrid Vargas, Iñigo Sánchez, María José Pérez-Aspa, José Vicente López-Bao, Francisco Palomares, Montserrat Gomendio, and Eduardo R S Roldan

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is the most endangered felid in the world. Adequate genetic management of in situ and ex situ populations, and linkage between both, require knowledge on male reproductive biology and factors influencing it. We examined the influence of age, free-ranging versus captive conditions and seasonality on phenotypic, endocrine and semen traits, and links between reproductive traits and male fertility. Males had relatively small testes, produced low sperm numbers, a low proportion of normal sperm, and a high proportion of motile sperm. Young (2-year-old) males had lower testosterone levels, fewer sperm, and a lower proportion of motile and normal sperm than ≥4-year-old males. No major differences were found in semen traits before and after the mating season or between free-ranging and captive males, although the latter had better sperm motility. Males with larger relative testes weight and more sperm copulated more frequently, whereas males that produced more sperm with higher motility produced more cubs per female. In conclusion, small relative testes size and low sperm quality could indicate either low levels of sperm competition or high levels of inbreeding. Young males are probably subfertile; there is a slight trend for males in the captive breeding programme to have better semen quality than wild males, and males with higher sperm production are sexually more active and more fertile. These findings have major implications for decisions regarding which males should breed, provide samples for the genetic resource bank, or participate in programmes involving the use of assisted reproductive techniques.

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Matteo Duque Rodriguez, Andrés Gambini, Laura D Ratner, Adrian J Sestelo, Olinda Briski, Cynthia Gutnisky, Susana B Rulli, Rafael Fernández Martin, Pablo Cetica, and Daniel F Salamone

Heterospecific embryo transfer of an endangered species has been carried out using recipients from related domestic females. Aggregation of an embryo from an endangered species with a tetraploid embryo from the species to be transferred could improve the development of pregnancy to term. The main objective of the present study was to analyze embryo aggregation in domestic cat model using hybrid embryos. For this purpose, we compared in vitro development of synchronic (Sync) or asynchronic (Async) and asynchronic with a tetraploid (Async4n) aggregation of domestic cat IVF embryos. Furthermore, aggregated blastocyst quality was analyzed by evaluation of the total cell number, cell allocation by mitotrackers staining of embryonic cells, expression of Oct4, Nanog, Sox2, Cdx2 genes, number of OCT4+ nuclei, and presence of DNA fragmentation. Additionally, the developmental rates of Async4n aggregation of domestic cat with Leopardus geoffroyi hybrid (hLg) embryos were evaluated. Async aggregation increased blastocyst cell number and the number of OCT4+ nuclei as compared to non-aggregated diploid (2n) and tetraploid (4n) embryos. Moreover, blastocysts produced by Async4n aggregation showed reduced rates of fragmented DNA. No differences were found in the expression of the pluripotent genes, with exception of the Cdx2 expression, which was higher in 4n and aggregated embryos as compared to the control group. Interestingly, hybrids embryos derived by Async4n aggregation with domestic cat embryos had similar rates of blastocysts development as the control. Altogether, the findings support the use of two-cell-fused embryos to generate tetraploid blastomeres and demonstrate that Async4n aggregation generates good quality embryos.