Jennifer BarfieldRecently Colorado State University took delivery of a couple of our precision bench top incubators for their ongoing Bison conservation programme.

For more than 40 years their Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory has pioneered techniques for assisted reproduction, including semen freezing and cooling and embryo transfer.

Currently, most of the circa 200,000 bison living in North America are not pure stock, due to interbreeding with domestic cattle. Researchers at Colorado hope to preserve the purity of this creature through the application of ART.

In 2012 they successfully reproduced a pure bred bison calf at the Bronx Zoo by removing the embryo of a pure bred Yellowstone bison that had been exposed to disease, implanting it  into a healthy, 'commercial' bison with ancestral cattle genes.

Yellowstone National Park has two of the last remaining large herds of pure-bred bison in North America, but moving them out of the park to reproduce has been tough with public concerns over their widespread exposure to disease.

Colorado State University reproductive physiologist Dr. Jennifer Barfield and her team, non surgically implanted the embryo from the bison cow, having “washed” it to remove the threat of diseases such as brucellosis, and implanted it in the uterus of a disease-free female bison. This surrogate bison cow was then transported, along with 15 other bison donated by the American Prairie Reserve, to the Bronx Zoo in New York.

Over the last five years our benchtop incubator has been used extensively in human IVF applications, but its superior temperature and CO2 uniformity (compared to larger conventional incubators)  look as though they will also now provide benefits for non-human applications. “The significance of what we are doing regarding preserving the Bison has much wider implications – the same techniques could be applied to other endangered species around the world. Using the latest and best equipment, like the BT37, gives us the best chance of success with this important project” said Dr Jennifer Barfield who is an an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, part of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

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