Molecular genetics and developmental biology have created thousands of new strains of laboratory animals, including rodents, Drosophila, and zebrafish. This process will accelerate. A decreasing fraction can be maintained as breeding colonies; hence, the others will be lost irretrievably unless their germplasm can be cryopreserved. Because of the increasingly critical role of cryopreservation, and because of wide differences in the success with which various forms of germplasm can be cryopreserved in various species, the National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources held a workshop on April 10–11, 2007, titled “Achieving High-Throughput Repositories for Biomedical Germplasm Preservation.” The species of concern were mouse, rat, domestic swine, rhesus monkey, and zebrafish. Our review/commentary has several purposes. The first is to summarize the status of the cryopreservation of germplasm from these species as assessed in the workshop. The second is to discuss the nature of the major underlying problems when survivals are poor or highly variable and possible ways of addressing them. Third is to emphasize the importance of a balance between fundamental and applied research in the process. Finally, we assess and comment on the factors to be considered in transferring from a base of scientific information to maximally cost-effective processes for the preservation of this germplasm in repositories. With respect to the first purpose, we discuss the three methods of preservation in use: slow equilibrium freezing, rapid nonequilibrium vitrification, and the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection to achieve fertilization with sperm rendered nonviable by other preservation treatments. With respect to the last purpose, we comment on and concur with the workshop's recommendations that cryopreservation largely be conducted by large, centralized repositories, and that both sperm (low front-end but high rederivation costs) and embryos (high front-end but modest rederivation costs) be preserved.
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Vol. 78 • No. 1