An innovative approach to improving artificial insemination success




Rich, Jacquline
Cowart, Jonathan
Orbach, Dara

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Artificial insemination is an important tool for conservation of endangered species and is highly reliant on access to high-quality sperm. Unfortunately, artificial insemination has had mixed success in different species, which may be due to collection and insemination of poor-quality sperm. Therefore, development of a novel technique to promote ejaculation of high-quality sperm is necessary to improve the success of future conservation efforts through artificial insemination. The purpose of this study is to develop an innovative tool that will function to improve the quality of sperm at the time of collection from animals in managed care. This biomimetic artificial vagina (BAV) is the first artificial vagina designed to mimic the natural shape and elasticity of biological tissue. Our BAV is designed to collect ejaculates from common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), which exhibit complex genital morphologies that have coevolved between the sexes. We hypothesize that the morphology of the vagina may play a role in stimulating the penis during ejaculation and will result in the production of higher quality ejaculates compared to traditional manual collection techniques. BAVs are created by coating vaginal molds made from post-mortem female dolphins with a soft, skin-like silicone. Ten adult male common bottlenose dolphins housed at aquaria around Florida and Texas are currently being trained to ejaculate into the BAV. We will assess sperm quality through examining the morphology and movement patterns of the sperm using computer-assisted sperm analysis software. The integrity of the sperm will be assessed using basic histochemical and microscopy techniques. We will compare the properties of the sperm collected using the BAV with sperm collected using traditional collection techniques to determine the impact of collection method on sperm quality. Our research has wide applications to conservation of terrestrial and marine endangered species through improving artificial insemination success.



Genital evolution, reproduction, reproduction



Attribution 4.0 International