A strategy to exploit surrogate sire technology in livestock breeding programs

Paolo Gottardo, Gregor Gorjanc, Mara Battagin, Robert Gaynor, Janez Jenko, Roger Ros Freixedes, Christopher Whitelaw, Alan Mileham, William O. Herring, John Hickey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this work, we performed simulations to develop and test a strategy for exploiting surrogate sire technology in animal breeding programs. Surrogate sire technology allows the creation of males that lack their own germline cells, but have transplanted spermatogonial stem cells from donor males. With this technology, a single elite male donor could give rise to huge numbers of progeny, potentially as much as all the production animals in a particular time period.
One hundred replicates of various scenarios were performed. Scenarios followed a common overall structure but differed in the strategy used to identify elite donors and how these donors were used in the product development part.
The results of this study showed that using surrogate sire technology would significantly increase the genetic merit of commercial sires, by as much as 6.5 to 9.2 years’ worth of genetic gain compared to a conventional breeding program. The simulations suggested that a strategy involving three stages (an initial genomic test followed by two subsequent progeny tests) was the most effective of all the strategies tested.
The use of one or a handful of elite donors to generate the production animals would be very different to current practice. While the results demonstrate the great potential of surrogate sire technology there are considerable risks but also other opportunities. Practical implementation of surrogate sire technology would need to account for these.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-215
JournalG3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'A strategy to exploit surrogate sire technology in livestock breeding programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this