Integration of microfluidics in animal in vitro embryo production

M. B. Wheeler, M. Rubessa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The in vitro production of livestock embryos is central to several areas of animal biotechnology. Further, the use of in vitro embryo manipulation is expanding as new applications emerge. ARTs find direct applications in increasing genetic quality of livestock, producing transgenic animals, cloning, artificial insemination, reducing disease transmission, preserving endangered germplasm, producing chimeric animals for disease research, and treating infertility. Whereas new techniques such as nuclear transfer and intracytoplasmic sperm injection are now commonly used, basic embryo culture procedures remain the limiting step to the development of these techniques. Research over the past 2 decades focusing on improving the culture medium has greatly improved in vitro development of embryos. However, cleavage rates and viability of these embryos is reduced compared with in vivo indicating that present in vitro systems are still not optimal. Furthermore, the methods of handling mammalian oocytes and embryos have changed little in recent decades. While pipetting techniques have served embryology well in the past, advanced handling and manipulation technologies will be required to efficiently implement and commercialize the basic biological advances made in recent years. Microfluidic systems can be used to handle gametes, mature oocytes, culture embryos, and perform other basic procedures in a microenvironment that more closely mimic in vivo conditions. The use of microfluidic technologies to fabricate microscale devices has being investigated to overcome this obstacle. In this review, we summarize the development and testing of microfabricated fluidic systems with feature sizes similar to the diameter of an embryo for in vitro production of pre-implantation mammalian embryos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-256
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Animals
  • Embryo
  • Microfluidics
  • Oocyte maturation
  • Sperm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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