Heliyon, Volume 7, March 2021,
Global warming has been affecting animal husbandry and farming production worldwide via changes in organisms and their habitats. In the tropics, these conditions are adverse for agriculture and animal production in some areas, due to high temperatures and relative humidity, affecting competitiveness related to economic activities. These environments have deteriorated livestock production, due to periods of drought, reduction in forage quality and heat stress, eliciting negative effects on reproduction, weight gain, and reduced meat and milk production. However, the use of animals adapted to tropics such as breeds derived from subspecies Bos primigenius indicus and native breeds from tropical countries or their crossings, is an alternative to improve production under high-temperature conditions. Therefore, physiological adaptation including gene expression induced by heat stress have been studied to understand the response of animals and to improve cross-breeding between cattle breeds to maintain high productivity in adverse weather conditions. Heat stress has been associated with lower reproductive performance in cows, due to the impact on blastocyst production, decreased implantation and increased embryonic death. Thus, for decades, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer techniques have focused on studying the optimal conditions for production of high-quality embryos to transfer. The aim of this review is to discuss the effects of heat stress in bovine embryos, and their physiological and genetic modulation, focusing on the genes that are related with major adaptability to heat stress conditions and their relationship with different embryonic stages.