Cryoconservation of animal genetic resources

Cryoconservation of
animal genetic resources

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome, 2012


The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, adopted in 2007, is the first internationally agreed framework for the management of biodiversity in the livestock sector. It calls for the development of technical guidelines to support countries in their implementation efforts. Guidelines on the Preparation of national strategies and action plans for animal genetic resources were published by FAO in 2008 and are being complemented by a series of guideline publications addressing specific technical subjects.

These guidelines on Cryoconservation of animal genetic resources address Strategic Priority Area 3 of the Global Plan of Action – “Conservation” and particularly complement the guidelines on In vivo conservation of animal genetic resources which will be published in the same series. They have been endorsed by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The guidelines describe, in logical chronological order, the process of establishing a programme for cryoconservation of animal genetic resources, starting with the process of confirming the decision to implement a cryoconservation programme. The task of organizing the institutions needed to meet the chosen conservation objectives is then described. This is followed by an overview of the types of germplasm that can be cryoconserved, and technical details regarding the physical plant required to set up a gene bank and the quantities of germplasm required to ensure the capture of sufficient genetic variability. Principles of cryopreservation are then explained from a biological point of view and cryopreservation procedures discussed for different species and tissue types. The main body of the guidelines concludes with sections on sanitary measures, data management, legal issues and capacity building. Appendices provide detailed protocols and lists of equipment and reagents for collection and cryopreservation of various tissues for a range of common livestock species.


The goal and structure of the guidelines
Abbreviations and acronyms


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Section 1
Abbreviations and acronyms

Section 2
Implementation and organization

Section 3
Objectives of cryoconservation programmes

Section 4
Potential use of different types of germplasm and tissue


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Section 5
Establishing a gene bank – physical structure and costs

Section 6
Developing gene bank collections


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Section 7
Basic principles of cryopreservation


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Section 8
Collection of germplasm and tissues

Section 9
Sanitary recommendations


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Section 10
Database and documentation

Section 11
Legal issues – contracts and access

Section 12
Capacity building and training


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Appendix A
Specialized procedures for field collection of germplasm

Appendix B
List of equipment needed for semen collection and freezing

Appendix C
Procedures for cryopreservation and thawing of semen from common livestock species

Appendix D
Guidelines for basic semen analysis

Appendix E
Commonly used superovulation schemes for donor cattle embryo recovery

Appendix F
List of equipment and supplies needed for non-surgical embryo collection and transfer in cattles

Appendix G
Technical procedures for cryopreservation and thawing of livestock embryos

Appendix H
Bovine oocyte collection procedures

Appendix I
In vitro maturation of bovine oocytes

Appendix J
Bovine in vitro fertilization protocol

Appendix K
Harvesting tissue samples for cryoconservation of somatic cells

Appendix L
Collection and freezing of poultry gonadal tissue

Appendix M
References for the appendices


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© FAO 2012