Studies of assisted reproduction in the spotted grass frog Limnodynastes tasmaniensis: ovulation, early development and microinjection (ICSI)

Herbert, Danielle (2004) Studies of assisted reproduction in the spotted grass frog Limnodynastes tasmaniensis: ovulation, early development and microinjection (ICSI). Masters by Research thesis, The University of Newcastle.


Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) offer a wide range of techniques that have the potential to augment efforts to conserve and manage endangered amphibians and improve wild and captive population numbers. Gametes and tissues of species nearing endangered or extinct status can be cryopreserved and stored in gene banks, to provide material that can be utilised in the future as ART methods are refined. The Spotted Grass Frog, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis, is an abundant amphibian species in South-Eastern Australia of the family Myobatrachidae, that is suitable for the development of ART systems that can be applied to the threatened and endangered myobatrachid and other amphibian species native to Australia. The aim of this study was to advance the understanding of ovulation, fertilisation and embryo nic development of Lim. tasmaniensis and in vitro manipulations of reproduction and development for use in the development of advanced ART procedures such as intracytoplasmic spermatozoon injection (ICSI), androgenesis and nuclear transfer.

Ovulation in amphibians can be induced by protocols utilising natural or synthetic hormones. All protocols tested on Lim. tasmaniensis in this study required two injections and the most effective protocols continued to require a first injection of pituitary extracts to induce ovulation. The second injection was, however, successfully replaced by synthetic chorionic gonadotrophin at a threshold dosage of 100 iu and halved the number of cane toads required to source the pituitaries. A combination of LHRH and Pimozide offered a less effective protocol, that did not require the use of pituitary extracts, and avoided the risk of pathogen transfer associated with unsterilised pituitary extracts.

Unfertilised eggs of Lim. tasmaniensis were exposed to media of various osmolalities to determine media effects on eggs and their surrounding jelly layers that might impact on egg viability and fertilisability. Osmolality had no effect upon the egg diameter, however, rapid swelling of the jelly layers occurred within 15 minutes of exposure to various media treatments and plateaued from 30-90 minutes without further expansion. Swelling of the jelly layers was increased in hypotonic media (2.5% SAR, H2O) and minimised in the isotonic media (100% SAR). The optimal conditions for the culture of Lim. tasmaniensis eggs were identified as a holding media of 100% SAR, followed by a medium change to 2.5% SAR at insemination. This sequence of media minimised the rate of swelling of the jelly layers prior to contact with the spermatozoa, and maximised the activation of spermatozoa and eggs throughout fertilisation and embryonic development.

Embryos of Lim. tasmaniensis were cultured at four temperatures (13 C, 17 C, 23 C and 29 C), to determine the effect of temperature on cleavage and embryonic development rates. Embryonic development progressed through a sequence of stages that were not altered by changes in temperature. However cleavage rates were affected by changes in temperature as compared with normal embryonic growth at 23 C. Embryonic development was suspended at the lowest temperature (13 C) while embryonic viability was maintained. A moderate decrease in temperature (17 C) slowed cleavage, while the highest temperature (29 C) increased the cleavage rate, but decreased the embryo survival. Rates of embryonic development can be manipulated by changes in temperature and this method can be used to source blastomeres of a specific size/stage at a predetermined age or halt cleavage at specific stages for embryos or embryo derived cells to be included in ART procedures.

This study produced the first report of the application of Intracytoplasmic Spermatozoon Injection (ICSI) in an Australian amphibian. Eggs that were activated by microinjection with a single spermatozoon (n=50) formed more deep, but abnormal, cleavage furrows post-injection (18/50, 36%), than surface changes (12/50, 24%). This result is in contrast to eggs injected without a spermatozoon (n=42), where the majority of eggs displayed limited surface changes (36/42, 86%), and few deep, abnormal furrows (3/42, 7%). Three advanced embryos (3/50, 6%) were produced by ICSI that developed to various stages within the culture system. Technical difficulties were encountered that prevented the generation of any metamorphs from ICSI tadpoles. Nevertheless, when these blocks to ICSI are overcome, the ICSI procedure will be both directly useful as an ART procedure in its own right, and the associated refinement of micromanipulation procedures will assist in the development of other ART procedures in Lim. tasmaniensis. A greater understanding of basic reproductive and developmental biology in Lim. tasmaniensis would greatly facilitate refinement of fertilisation by ICSI.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies, in conjunction with gene banks may in the future regenerate extinct amphibian species, and assist in the recovery of declining amphibian populations nationally and worldwide.

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ID Code: 54479
Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Refereed: No
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > ZOOLOGY (060800) > Animal Developmental and Reproductive Biology (060803)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: The University of Newcastle
Deposited On: 01 Nov 2012 23:26
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2012 23:26

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