ISSN 1062-3604, Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, 2017, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 81–92. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2017.
Original Russian Text © S.Ya. Amstislavsky, V.V. Kozhevnikova, V.V. Muzika, E.A. Kizilova, 2017, published in Ontogenez, 2017, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 93–106.
Reproductive Biology and a Genome Resource Bank of Felidae
S. Ya. Amstislavsky
*, V. V. Kozhevnikova
, V. V. Muzika
, and E. A. Kizilova
Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, 630090 Russia
Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, 630090 Russia
Received April 25, 2016; in final form, October 18, 2016
Abstract⎯The main achievements in applying modern reproductive technologies to the banking of the
genetic resources of the Felidae family are reviewed. The classification of felids at the level of species and sub-
species is revised in the light of recent molecular data. Special emphasis is made on such mainstream tech-
nologies as semen collection and cryopreservation followed by artificial insemination, as well as on in vitro
maturation and fertilization of oocytes combined with the culture of in vitro-derived felid embryos.
Keywords: Felidae, genetic resource banking, embryos, in vitro culture
CLASSIFICATION OF FELIDAE
AND MODERN REPRODUCTIVE
All extant felid species are encompassed by eight
genera (Johnson et al., 2006). Regardless of size, they
all are similar in physical appearance and share fam-
ily-specific features (Macdonald et al., 2010; Kitch-
ener et al., 2010). As a consequence of constant habitat
reduction by human activities, many felid species
acquired vulnerable or endangered statuses (Table 1).
Most wild cats are rather small. Of the 39 extant
felid species, 32 weigh no more than 30 kg (Sunquist, M.
and Sunquist, F., 2002). Only seven felid species are
large: lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, snow leopard, cou-
gar, and cheetah. Their ex situ populations are large
(Table 1). The majority of resources from funds
involved in wildlife conservation is allocated just for
preserving these species (Wilting et al., 2015). It
should be noted that several small felid species are also
vulnerable or endangered (Nowell, 2002). However,
they enjoy lesser attention of scientists than the large
species of the family (Brodie, 2009). Few small cat
species (below 30 kg) have ex situ populations exceed-
ing 200–300 individuals (Table 1).
Most large cats belong to the genus Panthera: lion,
leopard, jaguar, tiger, and snow leopard (ounce).
Their biology, ecology, and systematics have been
studied in detail (Mattern and McLennon, 2000;
Macdonald et al., 2010). The comprehensive knowl-
edge of the reproductive biology of each of the five
species allows application of assisted reproductive
techniques (Donoghue et al., 1990, 1992; Roth et al.,
1994; Morato et al., 2000; Jayaprakash et al., 2001;
Goeritz et al., 2012).
The genera Neofelis, Pardofelis, and Prionailurus
are confined to Asia (Johnson et al., 2006; Macdonald
et al., 2010). The genus Neofelis includes the clouded
leopard and Sunda clouded leopard (Buckley-Beason
et al., 2006). The reproduction of these two species has
been studied, and reproductive technologies are
applied to them (Howard et al., 1996; Pukazhenthi
et al., 2006b). The genus Pardofelis is represented by
relatively small species: the bay cat (zoological name
Catopuma badia), Temminck’s cat (zoological name
Catopuma temminckii), and marble cat. Tentatives
have been made for applying reproductive technolo-
gies to the marble cat (Thongphakdee et al., 2010) and
Temminck’s cat (Lueders et al., 2014) but not to the
bay cat. The genus Prionailurus includes the leopard
cat, fishing cat, flat-headed cat, and rusty-spotted cat
(Johnson et al., 2006). Reproductive technologies
have been applied to the rusty-spotted cat (Mellen,
1993; Gomez et al., 2009; Wiedemann et al., 2013),
flat-headed cat (Thongphakdee et al., 2010; Thuwa-
nut et al., 2011), fishing cat (Mellen, 1993; Thiangtum
et al., 2006; Pope et al., 2006), and leopard cat (Wildt
et al., 1992; Ha et al., 2011).
The genus Caracal includes three middle-sized cat
species living in Africa and Asia: the African golden
cat, caracal proper, and serval (Mattern and McLen-
non, 2000; Johnson et al., 2006). Reproductive tech-
nologies have been applied to two species of the genus:
caracal Caracal caracal (Pope et al., 2001, 2006) and
serval, zoological name Leptailurus serval (Pope et al.,
2005; Wiedemann et al., 2013). The African golden
cat, zoological name Profelis aurata, has been poorly
studied; one of the causes of this situation is the
absence of a stable captive population (Table 1).