Ovine embryos produced in synthetic oviduct fluid (SOF) medium or in coculture with granulosa cell monolayers supplemented with low (A; 120 μmol/l) and high (B; 190 μmol/l) ammonia-producing steer sera caused different degrees of fetal oversize (Carolan et al., 1998). The objective of the present study was to determine whether the effects on fetal growth induced by these sera were associated with alterations in early embryo development.
A total of 911 bovine oocytes, used in 8 replicates to test the effect of three culture treatments on embryo development, were matured and fertilized in vitro (IVF= Day 0). Presumptive zygotes were allocated on Day 1 to culture in SOF supplemented with 10% v/v steer serum (SOF+A, n=308; SOF+B, n=302) or with amino acids plus 0.4% w/v crystalline BSA (SOFaaBSA, n=301). All cultures were in 20 μl droplets under oil (38.5°C; 5% CO2, 5% O2; 4 zygotes per drop) and droplets were renewed every 48 h. Cleavage rate was recorded on Day 3. On Days 7 and 8, blastocyst yields, grade 1 and 2 blastocysts, their cell numbers (by staining with Hoechst 33342) and their stage and diameter were determined.