Pre-Implantation Bovine Embryo Evaluation—From Optics to Omics and Beyond

R. A. Chanaka Rabel, Paula V. Marchioretto, Elizabeth A. Bangert, Kenneth Wilson, Derek J. Milner, Matthew B. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Approximately 80% of the ~1.5 million bovine embryos transferred in 2021 were in vitro produced. However, only ~27% of the transferred IVP embryos will result in live births. The ~73% pregnancy failures are partly due to transferring poor-quality embryos, a result of erroneous stereomicroscopy-based morphological evaluation, the current method of choice for pre-transfer embryo evaluation. Numerous microscopic (e.g., differential interference contrast, electron, fluorescent, time-lapse, and artificial-intelligence-based microscopy) and non-microscopic (e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and nuclear magnetic resonance) methodologies have been tested to find an embryo evaluation technique that is superior to morphologic evaluation. Many of these research tools can accurately determine embryo quality/viability; however, most are invasive, expensive, laborious, technically sophisticated, and/or time-consuming, making them futile in the context of in-field embryo evaluation. However accurate they may be, using complex methods, such as RNA sequencing, SNP chips, mass spectrometry, and multiphoton microscopy, at thousands of embryo production/collection facilities is impractical. Therefore, future research is warranted to innovate field-friendly, simple benchtop tests using findings already available, particularly from omics-based research methodologies. Time-lapse monitoring and artificial-intelligence-based automated image analysis also have the potential for accurate embryo evaluation; however, further research is warranted to innovate economically feasible options for in-field applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2102
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • bovine embryo evaluation
  • assisted reproductive technologies
  • bovine embryo transfer
  • beef cattle embryo staging
  • dairy cattle blastocyst morphological analysis
  • pre-implantation embryo quality
  • bovine embryo grading
  • in vitro fertilization
  • in vivo derived embryos
  • in vitro production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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