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China clones pigs completely with robots

According to The South China Morning Post, a research team from the College of Artificial Intelligence of Nantai University in Tianjin – China has developed a “closed” pig cloning process by robot, promising to help the nation The world’s largest pork consumer has reduced its dependence on imported breeding pigs.

Previously, the most common technique for creating a cloned embryo was somatic cell nuclear transfer, a time-consuming and laborious process conducted under a microscope in a laboratory.

The procedure entails removing the nucleus of the egg cell and replacing it with a nucleus from another body cell called a somatic cell. In 2017, the Nantai University team produced the first robot cloned piglets, but some operations – including removing the egg cell nucleus – still have to be done by humans.

China clones pigs completely with robots - Photo 1.

A pig farm in Jiangxi province – China Photo: Xinhua News Agency

The team has improved the algorithms over the years, and as a result, seven piglets born in March 2022 have been created using robots.

The automated process greatly improves the success rate of cloned embryo development because the robot can perform the most precise, consistent operations with minimal force to avoid cell damage. The development rate of successful embryo clones using robots has increased from 21% to 27.5% over the years, while manual cloning is only 10%.

The research team’s representative, Mr. Liu Yaowei, hopes these advances can help to widely spread high-quality pork in China.


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