Gamete and Embryo Technologies

foal and mother

Gamete (sperm and egg) and embryo technologies, including sperm freezing, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer have contributed enormously to the improvement of livestock production and human reproductive health.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Species Survival is a world leader in studying the reproductive biology of domestic and non-domestic species. Scientists conduct basic and applied research to advance the understanding of species-specific reproductive mechanisms. They also develop innovative reproductive tools in order to establish insurance collections of gametes, rescue valuable genetic material and preserve fertility.

Current Projects

  • Understanding ovarian follicle development in domestic and wild carnivores and ungulates
  • Developing in vitro gonadal (testes and ovary) and ovarian follicle culture technologies to preserve fertility
  • Improving sperm, oocyte and embryo cryopreservation technologies and exploring novel approaches for ambient temperature storage
  • Integrating genomic and proteomic approaches in the study of gamete, embryo and gonadal tissue function

Continue Exploring

Changing Landscapes Initiative

Smithsonian scientists work alongside community members in Northwestern Virginia to evaluate the impacts of land-use change on wildlife, ecosystem services and community health.

Coral Biobank Alliance

Smithsonian scientists are part of the Coral Biobank Alliance, a global network of coral experts preserving corals for restoration and research.

Coral Species Cryopreserved with Global Collaborators​

View a list of the coral species that have been cryopreserved using a technique developed by Smithsonian scientists.

Wildebeest Conservation

Conservation Ecology Center scientists are tracking the movements of white-bearded wildebeest to understand how changes across the landscape impact the species.

Protecting Piping Plovers in the Great Lakes

In 2022, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center will begin a new research project to help protect endangered piping plovers from predation by merlins.

Swift Fox Recovery

Smithsonian scientists, in collaboration with the Fort Belknap Fish and Wildlife Department, are embarking on a five-year swift fox reintroduction project to restore swift foxes to tribal lands and to help reestablish connectivity between disjointed swift fox populations.

Conserving the World’s Largest Working Wetland

Conservation Ecology Center researchers are collaborating with institutions in Brazil and other Smithsonian colleagues to support sustainable cattle ranching in the Pantanal wetland.