Description of the field
The subject of reproduction covers various aspects of domestic and wild animal reproduction and includes several subtopics, which we research and/or teach, such as andrology, gynecology (including infections and metabolic disorders), reproductive biotechnology (including artificial insemination, embryo transfer and in vitro techniques), obstetrics, udder diseases, reproductive endocrinology and toxicology.
In the Nordic countries, animal husbandry is characterized by high productivity, restrictive use of hormone preparations, very good animal health combined with low antibiotic use and high animal welfare standards. This is an approach to animal food production that is increasingly in demand globally. In addition, society is increasingly demanding more sustainable animal husbandry, both for the animals themselves and for the efficient use of natural resources. Animal reproduction is an important part of this.
Discussions on fertility and birth problems in some pets are expected to continue and a challenge is the control of reproduction (behavior) in the increasing number of pets. Reproductive biotechnology techniques are becoming more and more relevant with the increasing internationalization of animal breeding and the need to disseminate genetic material in the form of frozen gametes. The demand for these techniques is also increasing in conservation biology to safeguard biodiversity. The Department of Reproduction at SLU has a strong and long-standing commitment to research and capacity development in low- and middle-income countries and is approved to host residency programs for European Diplomats.
The activities in the subject of reproduction connect well with Agenda 2030 and the SLU focus area "sustainable development":
- A strong global research and education commitment
- Striving to improve the efficiency of reproduction among food-producing animals is crucial to using natural resources as efficiently as possible and reducing climate impact.
- Developing better ways to freeze and store gametes helps us preserve biodiversity.
- Our work at herd and laboratory level to reduce the need for antibiotics helps curb the development of antibiotic resistance.
- ... and our studies on the impact of climate change and environmental pollution on animal and human fertility are important for protecting fertility in different populations. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, staff in the field developed and ran an international online course and now international digital courses are being developed and run.
This, as well as the adaptation to online teaching in the veterinary program and postgraduate education, is in line with SLU's focus area "SLU in the digital society".
Related to SLU's and the faculty's writings on the focus area "One SLU", the subject area reproduction already has several positions, or the funding of positions, shared with stakeholders outside SLU. However, collaboration with UDS's clinics should be strengthened based on the "Together project".
There is also a potential for increased collaboration on a Nordic/Baltic basis in most of the reproductive sub-disciplines. The joint infrastructure at Lövsta and KV-lab engages several of the researchers in the subject. At the SLU platform "Cells for Life" and within reproductive biotechnology, we offer advanced reproductive biotechnology techniques for research in both human and veterinary medicine. We conduct research in about 30 different projects that are listed on the department's website. The questions in these projects range from herd level via clinical and in vitro studies to molecular biology, from guinea pigs to cattle and are conducted in Sweden as well as in Asia and Africa.