In a paper forthcoming in the November issue of the journal Theriogenology, a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, announced the first successful drying and rehydration of domestic cat spermatozoa using a rapid microwave dehydration method.
Far from being an esoteric accomplishment, the successful preservation of cat spermatozoa by dehydration is a potentially important step in addressing key issues involved in the reproductive biology of wild felids.
There is a significant risk that in the near future, species key to the biological diversity of the planet may either go extinct or be so reduced in their genetic diversity that wild populations are not viable.
Science might be able to rapidly and successfully improve the status of small animal populations if more "libraries" of preserved eggs and sperm are available.
Scientists could simply use stocks of reproductive material, preserved in stable, dried form, re-hydrate them and create a population of viable embryos.
The idea of preserving sperm, eggs and embryos for later use is not new, but generally the preferred preservation technique is for these materials to be frozen.