As the country is celebrating women’s month, the University of Venda (UNIVEN) finds it imperative to start this month by celebrating women who are champions in the academic and scientific community. UNIVEN prides itself with the great minds and high-level creativity within the science domain. The University further values scientists and would like to celebrate their great achievements.
It is for these reasons that, during the recent UNIVEN Graduation Ceremonies, Dr Andrea Motswetla Raseona graduated her PhD, with a thesis title ‘the Effects of Spermatozoa Viability, Culture Receptacle, Incubation, and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection on In Vitro Produced Cattle Embryos Using Epididymal Spermatozoa’.
Dr Raseona is a Laboratory Technician in the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture.
According to her study, one of the unique ways of preserving the male genetic material of cattle is the use of assisted reproductive technologies. The research study focused on the production of in vitro cattle embryos using epididymal spermatozoa recovered immediately after bull slaughtering and 24 hours post-mortem by firstly seeking the effective spermatozoa extender and preservation method, and secondly by assessing the effects of culture receptacles and incubation methods following intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In a series of experiments, ejaculated and epididymal bull spermatozoa were collected, chilled, cryopreserved and used for in vitro embryo production. She mentioned that the most important conclusion of her study was the finding that fertilisation and blastocyst development can be accomplished through intracytoplasmic sperm injection with cryopreserved bull epididymal spermatozoa recovered immediately after bull slaughtering or 24 hours post-mortem, using French semen straws as culture receptacles and goat doe vagina as an alternative incubator. The thesis further encourages the use of French semen straws as culture receptacles and goat doe vagina as an alternative incubator to support in vitro embryo production, where a sophisticated animal reproductive laboratory is not available. From the study, four manuscripts were generated of which one has already been published in a peer-reviewed accredited journal.
During the graduation ceremony that took place on Thursday, 14 July 2022, Dr Raseona’s Research Supervisor, Prof Danie Barry, said that it was a privilege to hand over a well-deserved PhD to Dr. Andrea Raseona because her research will have a major impact on the livestock industry in South Africa and in Africa as a whole.
Prof Barry explained that Dr Raseona’s study further indicated that, normally when a bull ejaculates it deposits 5 – 8 ml of sperm in the vagina of a cow. “This represents more than 10 billion of spermatozoa but only one will be lucky fellow that will penetrate the shell of the oocyte (egg) produced by the cow to grow into an embryo and later calf to be born 9 months later”.
‘’When you do artificial insemination (AI), you must have 10 million live motile spermatozoa in each straw used to inseminate one cow. When you do in vitro fertilization in the infertility laboratory, you will need at least 10 000 spermatozoa to fertilize each egg. However, when you do intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) you only need one sperm per egg, as this time you put the sperm with a glass needle through the wall of the oocyte into the inner fluid (cytoplasm) of the oocyte. And this, Dr. Raseona has proved, can be an oocyte from a cow that has been slaughtered in the Louis Trichardt abattoir and a sperm, motile on even non-motile (dead) as long as 24 hours after slaughter. She therefore created a Lazarus that was risen from the grave. Can you imagine how many eggs can be fertilized from a superior bull with this method, even 24 hours after the bull has died? Dr. Raseona was the first lady on the continent of Africa to ever achieve this, because she produced cow embryos through ICSI which, if you have transferred them to a recipient cow, you would have a live calf born 9 months later.”
The University of Venda would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and celebrate with Dr Raseona as August is also her birthday month on the 13th .
Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 09 August 2022