Veterinary Reproductive Biotechnologies are used to obtain offspring from animals as an alternative to natural mating.
The most common reproductive biotechnology in animals is artificial insemination (AI), in conjunction with sperm preservation/ cryopreservation. Embryo production (ET) is employed mostly in cattle at present. There are many other reproductive biotechnologies, ranging from cloning to transplantation of spermatogonia from donor animals to recipients´ testes. Hormonal control of reproduction is also increasingly important, especially in species whose populations are increasing rapidly. Thus, reproductive biotechnologies are central to a number of other reproductive disciplines. The subject Veterinary Reproductive Biotechnologies is wide-ranging and runs parallel to Domestic Animal Reproduction, with which we interact.
- Improving reproductive efficiency in a wide range of species e.g. by selecting fertile sperm sub-populations from the rest of the ejaculate for use in various reproductive biotechnologies; devising new markers of fertility; improving cryopreservation protocols; researching the roles of seminal plasma in modulating sperm function and also its effects on the female reproductive tract; and understanding how external factors such as season or the age of the animal can affect both sperm quality and seminal plasma; epigenetics. In addition, a major interest is in removal of pathogens from semen and in finding alternatives to antibiotics for controlling bacteria that contaminate the ejaculate during semen collection. We have collaborative research projects to develop reproductive biotechnologies in exotic animal species e.g. camelids.
- Developing or optimizing flow cytometric analyses of sperm quality.
- Methods to improve sperm cryopreservation in dogs and cats, and in optimizing insemination protocols in these species.
- The role of melatonin in the reproductive cycle of the bitch.
- Wildlife conservation.
- Embryo vitrification. In vitro bovine or porcine embryo production is currently used as a model for human early embryonic development (impact of pollutants) and as a 3R (replace, reduce, refine) method for toxicological testing. In one project, we are studying the effect of environment on female fertility.
- Establishment of embryo methods in Sweden for research and for commercial embryo production.
- Gamete interactions, particularly the effect of zona pellucida proteins on sperm binding.
In addition, together with KV-Lab, we offer a service for animal breeders in sperm morphology evaluation. Collectively we offer an advisory service to animal owners on all aspects of fertility and herd health which can serve as a springboard for research projects.
These areas are strongly in line with the University´s and Faculty´s research strategy, especially to provide a sustainable and secure food supply, to reduce the use of antimicrobials, to continue research on wildlife, and to conduct research of benefit to animals.