Summary. Zygotes from superovulated cows were centrifuged and pronuclei were detected by differential interference-contrast microscopy in 73% of 106 zygotes. Zygotes were then transferred to ligated oviducts of follicular-phase, 1-day pseudopregnant or 7-day pseudopregnant rabbits and recovered 5 days later. Their development did not differ from that of uncentrifuged zygotes transferred to the opposite oviduct: 41% of the embryos recovered from rabbit oviducts contained 17–32 nuclei and an additional 5% contained >32 nuclei. In another experiment, 399 ova from unmated cows were transferred to rabbit oviducts to determine whether centrifugation induced parthenogenetic development. After 7 days, 257 ova were recovered; 16% of the recovered ova had developed parthenogenetically and contained 2–30 nuclei. Neither centrifugation of the ova nor reproductive status of the rabbits influenced the proportion of parthenogenotes found. Parthenogenetic development was also observed in 14 of 71 ova (20%) recovered on Day 7 from uninseminated superovulated cows. In an attempt to increase the probability of detecting treatment differences, centrifuged and control cow zygotes were incubated for 7 (rather than 5) days in opposite oviducts of fourteen 1-day pseudopregnant rabbits. Development was unaffected by centrifugation: 61% of the zygotes recovered had developed beyond the 16-cell stage, with 23, 24 and 15% containing 17–32, 33–64, and >64 nuclei, respectively. Taking into account the percentage of zygotes in which pronuclei can be seen, the recovery rate from rabbit oviducts, and the proportion of embryos that develop to the morula stage or beyond, 26% of the original group of zygotes would be candidates for transfer into recipient cows.
Keywords: cattle; pronuclei; centrifugation; parthenogenesis; embryo