China only produces pigs using robots

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Integrating AI into the cloning process is a new achievement for researchers at the College of Artificial Intelligence at Nankai University in China. Fully automated, the technique will reduce manual cloning errors and free researchers from tedious and time-consuming tasks. The recent birth of seven pigs without human intervention is another step towards normalizing such commercial cloning, which could also benefit Chinese agriculture by reducing the country’s dependence on imported breeding animals.

Researchers at the College of Artificial Intelligence at Nankai University (China) have developed a cloning technology that reports no need for human intervention. A sowing at Nankai University last March gave birth to seven cloned pigs. Each cloning step was automated using robots.

The strategy is not new, as Nankai University Group created the world’s first 13 pigs cloned in 2017 using “just” robots. However, Liu Yaoi, a member of the team that developed the system, said at the time that some parts of the process (such as removing the nucleus from the egg) still needed to be done by humans.

Typically, the effective cloning of an embryo in the laboratory requires cloning the nucleus of a somatic (body) cell of an animal into an oocyte from which the nucleus has been removed and which may come from another animal. Using robotic mechanisms, the team has since performed thousands of nuclear transfer operations: they transplanted 510 embryos into six embryos in 2017 (of which two gave birth) and in 2018 produced nine robot-cloned pigs with 101 offspring.

27.5% success rate compared to 10% for a manual operation

Professor Zhao Jin of Nankai AI College led the robot-cloned piglet project. He introduced a mechanical model and a siphon effect into the AI ​​design of the team. ” Thus, high-precision automated cell adaptation and the removal of the cell nucleus require only minimal force. “, Details of a press release from the university. ” Experiments have shown a significant reduction in cell damage after the procedure. More importantly, the success rate of further development of cloned embryos was 21% for manual operation compared to 21% for robotic procedures.

Even better, the team was able to improve the success rate of cloned embryo development over the past five years, which increased from 21% to 27.5%, according to Liu Yaoi. Overcoming the technical hurdles of biological cloning, AI cloning is much easier. In addition, it frees researchers from manual micro-manipulation that could cause them long-term health problems – for example, by bending over a microscope. This will allow them to free up time for other manipulations, scientists sometimes create more than 1000 clones every day!

EPig rearing: China is struggling to regain its self-sufficiency

Pork is the most popular meat in China, and its industry is still struggling to recover from the outbreaks of African swine fever in 2018 and 2019, which has greatly affected its breeding stock. Reuters reports that the loss of healthy seeds has increased the need to import breeding stock and that the pig industry is seeking to regain its former self-sufficiency. Advanced technology will make it possible for China to improve its situation, at a time when the country is facing risks due to import restrictions from the United States and other Western countries.

Separately, Pan Dengke – a former researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences who helped create China’s first cloned pig in 2005 – says South China Morning Post That robotic cloning technique can have a wide range of applications in animal husbandry, including breeding and selective breeding. ” The commercialization of robotic cloning will undoubtedly have a big and profound impact on the lives of industry and the general public. “, He added.

An article submitted for proofreading will soon be published in the journal EngineeringSo as to report the technical details of the technology.

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