Intra- and interspecific embryo transfer.
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The procedures that are collectively referred to as embryo transfer (ET) have many uses. They were first used as research tools to study fetal-maternal physiology. Since the first successful mammalian embryo transfer in 1890, ET has been utilized for enhancement of genetic selection; diagnosis and treatment of infertility; control of infectious disease transmission; screening for genetic defects; propagation of rare and endangered species; and the study of developmental biology. Most of the embryo transfers have been intraspecific. A listing of the species includes rabbit, rat, sheep, mouse, goat, cattle, pig, hamster, ferret, mink, horse, baboon, cat, dog, water buffalo. In two species, rhesus monkey and humans, the successful embryo transfers have been limited to within-animal, homologous replacement of the embryos. There have been a few successful interspecific embryo transfers. The most common were between Bos taurus and B. indicus cattle. Other interspecific transfers involved Bos gaurus and B. taurus, cattle; Ovis musimon and O. aries, sheep; Equus asinus and E. caballus, horses. There are several examples of intergeneric embryo transfers in which embryos implanted but did not develop to term: sheep and goat, mouse and rat. The factors that determine the degree of compatibility between embryos and uteri of various species and genera are not clearly understood. The ability to hybridize successfully is probably a dependable indication of compatibility for embryo transfer. The limits of tolerance for differences between the donor and recipient in such factors as placental structure and gestation length have not been defined, but the recently developed technique of inner cell mass transfer will be very useful in such studies.
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