Fertilized rabbit ova at the 2-blastomere stage kept in rabbit serum were stored at low temperatures for various lengths of time. They were then cultured at 38°C. for about 24 hours to determine their viability. A number of the viable ova were finally transplanted into recipient does.
It was found that rapid cooling of ova to 5° or to 0°C. was more harmful to the subsequent viability of ova than slow cooling. Rapid cooling was not more lethal to the ova than slow cooling, but did prevent their future normal cleavage. There was no difference between those ova cooled rapidly or slowly to 10°C. It was concluded that temperature shock has an adverse effect on ova, especially at the lower temperatures, though temperature shock can be remedied by acclimatization (slow cooling). Thus, the physiological significance of temperature shock would seem to be broadened.
The optimal temperature for the storage of ova was investigated. It was found that 10°C. was the best temperature; at this temperature viable ova were obtained after storage for 144 to 168 hours. At 0°, 5°, or 15°C. the ova were viable for 96 to 120 hours, while at 22–24°C., only for 24 to 48 hours.
The percentage of dead ova was low at a favorable temperature, increasing only at the end of the storage period. At an unfavorable temperature, however, the rate of death increased steadily from beginning to end of storage.
The percentage of abnormally cleaved ova (arrested cleavage and fragmentation) remained at a low level at first at a favorable temperature, but then increased just before or during death of the ova.
A critical time for the viability, the abnormal cleavage, and the death of ova was characteristic of each temperature.
About 24 to 28 per cent of the viable ova remaining after being stored at 0–15°C. for 2 to 4 days and cultured at 38°C. for 24 hours were capable of development into normal young.
The compatibility of serum and ova, the absence of a correlation between the viability of the ova and the source of the fertilizing spermatozoa, and the fertilization of superovulated ova (i.e., the percentage of fertile does in follicular phase and in luteal phase, the percentage of unfertilized ova and of fertilized ova at different stages, the percentage of does that had produced a normal number of ova or had produced a large number of ova, etc.), are reported.
The possibility of a more efficient utilization of the germ cells of valuable animals by means of the present techniques, and the possibility of a new approach to the experimental investigation of mammalian genetics and development, have been mentioned.