Q: What is ICSI?
A: ICSI stands for ‘intracytoplasmic sperm injection’ and the procedure is now being performed more commonly in horses. The ICSI procedure involves the injection of a single sperm cell into the cytoplasm of a mature oocyte (egg), thus performing fertilisation.
The fertilised oocyte is then returned to an incubator and allowed to develop into an embryo. This process usually takes between six and eight days. The embryo can then be transferred into a recipient/surrogate mare, transferred back into the original mare, or frozen for transfer at a later date.
This process is incredibly exciting, as only a single sperm cell is required. This means that foals could be produced from stallions with low numbers of sperm, or poor sperm quality. It allows one straw of semen to produce many, many embryos.