a. Wojciech Niżański from the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław is working to save endangered species of animals from the cat family (of the 39 species, up to 38 are endangered!). Will science help save lynxes, tigers and leopards? a. Niżański thinks so. To this end, his team is freezing the reproductive cells of future animals, thanks to lab techniques, to save them from extinction.
The research is conducted in the Department of Reproduction with UPWr’s Farm Animal Clinic.
– We collect male and female cells from zoo animals when they are anesthetized during other procedures or vaccinations. In a simple and painless way, we obtain sperm and egg cells in this way and freeze them in liquid nitrogen – explains Professor K. Wojciech Niżański, adding that he and his team also vaporize male and female gametes in glass, obtain progeny embryos and freeze them in liquid nitrogen as well. When stored at -196°C, genetic material can survive for thousands of years!
– We have not yet transferred embryos at this point. We are waiting for this to be sure that our knowledge and experience will allow us to safely use this genetic material for litters, explains Professor Niżański, who has no doubt that laboratory methods are the future, which will also be an alternative to methods in the animal world.
– Thanks to them, if nature fails to adapt, we will have a chance to keep many species alive – confirms the world.
To save the bison…
Cats are not the only endangered species that Professor Niżański’s team is working to save. In collaboration with the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, they have created the world’s first bison sperm bank at the Gene Bank in Kostrzyca. The bank is financed by the Forest Fund, in which a similar procedure is carried out for freezing the genetic material of bison. These studies are the result of collaboration with Prof. Wanda Olic Piasica.
– Only a few males survived World War I, which means that the bison that live today are closely related to each other. We are afraid that emerging diseases will lead to the decimation of entire herds, because all individuals will be susceptible to infection. This is why we want to increase the biodiversity of the bison to make them more resistant. When a male dies in the woods, we go to collect the material and together with geneticists determine which sperm we should attach the eggs to in the lab, so that the embryos are genetically different and the least related possible. – Tells about the project by the professor. Niżański.
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