Individual wool follicles were isolated from adult sheep and maintained in tissue culture for three days. Follicles from Merino, Poll Dorset and Suffolk animals were classified as fine wool types and were compared with follicles from Romney, English Leicester and Drysdale animals which were termed a coarser wool type. There were significant differences in both follicle survival and the rate of fibre growth between coarse and fine follicle types maintained in vitro. Only 48% of follicles from animals with fine fibre types survived in tissue culture. In contrast, 84% of follicles from coarse fibre types remained viable in vitro (P<0.01). The fibre growth rates of viable follicles was also significantly different between fibre types (P<0.01). Follicles isolated from animals classified as fine fibre types had a fibre growth rate of 108 ± 16um per day compared with 170 ± 12um per day fibre growth by animals with coarser fibre types. In vitro fibre growth by animals with large, straight follicles such as those from the English Leicester and Drysdale animals was greatest and a high proportion remained viable. Furthermore, follicles from these animals were easy to isolate relative to finer fibre types. Dissection of finer follicles was considerably more difficult, due to the decreased follicle size, curvature and high follicle density; factors which may be responsible for their reduced viability in vitro.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 57, , 48-50, 1997
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