Developing Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Camelids, especially the Alpaca

The University of Sydney

  • Project code: PRJ-006417

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, October 31, 2011

  • Project completion date: Sunday, May 31, 2015

  • National Priority: ALP-Alpaca


The main aims of this project are to develop reliable, effective, commercially available protocols for semen cryopreservation and artificial insemination in alpacas. This project will also utilise the findings of RIRDC project PRJ-000054 in which we have:
1) Identified Mucin 5B as the main cause of viscosity in alpaca seminal plasma
2) Investigated the use of enzymes to reduce seminal plasma viscosity, in particular enzymes that degrade Mucin 5B
3) Successfully eliminated seminal plasma viscosity without impairing sperm function and integrity
4) Determined the function of alpaca seminal plasma on sperm integrity and identified the optimal dilution rate of alpaca semen for maintenance of sperm function
5) Applied for a provisional patent following the discovery of a seminal plasma protein that we believe may induce ovulation in the alpaca

The viscous nature of alpaca seminal plasma is the major impediment to the storage of alpaca semen, therefore identifying the cause of, and eliminating, the viscosity without impairing sperm function aids the development of cryopreservation and other assisted reproductive technologies.
In this project we aim to utilise the protocol established in our current research to reduce the viscosity of alpaca semen then investigate the optimal diluent components and cooling/freezing methods for alpaca sperm in order to develop a cryopreservation protocol that is applicable to the alpaca industry. To fully benefit from the ability to cryopreserve alpaca sperm, a viable artificial insemination technique including induction of ovulation and deposition of sperm is required. We aim to investigate the use of the seminal plasma protein identified in RIRDC project PRJ-00054 to induce ovulation and determine the optimal sperm dose, site of insemination and time of insemination of cryopreserved sperm to obtain viable pregnancies in alpacas.



Research Organisation

The University of Sydney

Objective Summary

The major objectives of the proposed project are to establish reliable, effective, economically viable and commercially available protocols for semen cryopreservation and artificial insemination in alpacas.

We aim to degrade the viscous component of alpaca seminal plasma then systemically investigate the optimal diluent components including energy source, buffer and cryoprotectants; storage method (pellets or straws); and freeze-thaw rates, to develop a routinely reliable sperm cryopreservation protocol. The integrity, function and fertilising ability of the cryopreserved sperm will be investigated in vitro and in vivo.
In order for the Australian alpaca industry to benefit from this cryopreservation protocol the use of this sperm for artificial insemination will be investigated. We aim to determine the optimal sperm dose, site of sperm deposition and time of insemination for frozen alpaca sperm in order to obtain viable pregnancies. Additionally, we aim to optimise ovulation synchronisation protocols in the alpaca and investigate the potential of the protein identified in our current research to induce ovulation.
The major outcomes from the proposed project are
1) A commercially available cryopreservation protocol for alpaca sperm for use within the alpaca industry
2) A commercially available, economically viable artificial insemination protocol for use within the alpaca industry.
3) A reliable ovulation synchronisation protocol for alpacas to be used in conjunction with artificial insemination
4) A patent for the use of ovulation inducing factor protein (identified in RIRDC project PRJ-00054) for synchronisation of ovulation in alpacas (provisional patent pending)

These objectives and outcomes will contribute to the New Animal Products research priority of increased productivity by investment in reproduction and breeding research, specifically more successful artificial insemination rates in alpaca.