The present study aimed to investigate the differentiation of chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) primordial germ cells (PGCs) in duck (Anas domesticus) gonads. Chimeric ducks were produced by transferring chicken PGCs into duck embryos. Transfer of 200 and 400 PGCs resulted in the detection of a total number of 63.0 ± 54.3 and 116.8 ± 47.1 chicken PGCs in the gonads of 7-day-old duck embryos, respectively. The chimeric rate of ducks prior to hatching was 52.9% and 90.9%, respectively. Chicken germ cells were assessed in the gonad of chimeric ducks with chicken-specific DNA probes. Chicken spermatogonia were detected in the seminiferous tubules of duck testis. Chicken oogonia, primitive and primary follicles, and chicken-derived oocytes were also found in the ovaries of chimeric ducks, indicating that chicken PGCs are able to migrate, proliferate, and differentiate in duck ovaries and participate in the progression of duck ovarian folliculogenesis. Chicken DNA was detected using PCR from the semen of chimeric ducks. A total number of 1057 chicken eggs were laid by Barred Rock hens after they were inseminated with chimeric duck semen, of which four chicken offspring hatched and one chicken embryo did not hatch. Female chimeric ducks were inseminated with chicken semen; however, no fertile eggs were obtained. In conclusion, these results demonstrated that chicken PGCs could interact with duck germinal epithelium and complete spermatogenesis and eventually give rise to functional sperm. The PGC-mediated germline chimera technology may provide a novel system for conserving endangered avian species.
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Vol. 86 • No. 4