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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Biosciences & Biotechnology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #442575

Research Project: Development of New Technologies and Methods to Enhance the Fertility, Utilization, and Long-Term Storage of Poultry and Swine Germplasm

Location: Animal Biosciences & Biotechnology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-31000-111-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Aug 12, 2022
End Date: Aug 11, 2027

Objective 1: Determine biomarkers for turkey hen fertility and assess the functional aspects of cryoconserved ovarian tissue. Sub-objective 1.A: Establish genetic and protein biomarkers associated with hen fertility rates that can be employed for selective breeding decisions. Sub-objective 1.B: Determine global gene and protein expression differences in sperm storage tubule (SST) molecular function between low and high fertility hens. Sub-objective 1.C: Determine the ability of a short-term in ovo culture system to predict the viability and maturation potential of immature turkey ovarian tissue in a cryopreservation program. Objective 2. Define methods for identifying cryopreservation potential and mitigating the negative impacts associated with cryopreservation in poultry semen. Sub-objective 2.A: Identify biomarkers associated with cryopreservation tolerance through the comparison of poultry lines with superior and poor cryopreservation tolerance. Sub-objective 2.B: Evaluate the efficacy of straw-in-straw vitrification, non-permeable cryoprotectants, and mitochondria-targeted antioxidants for the preservation of poultry semen. Sub-objective 2.C: Identify molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with early embryonic mortality in turkey embryos originating from insemination with frozen/thawed semen. Objective 3: Determine biomarkers associated with superior or inferior fertility in boars and elucidate the molecular mechanisms behind reduced fertility in stored swine semen. Sub-objective 3.A: Identify biological and functional parameters associated with fertility in fresh semen. Sub-objective 3.B: Elucidating biomarkers of swine fertility through integrative omic analysis in fresh semen. Sub-objective 3.C: Physiological Factors Impacting Semen Cryopreservation in Swine. Objective 4: Rejuvenate poultry research lines from cryopreserved semen using both surgical and non-surgical approaches.

The long-term goals of this Project Plan are to improve the efficiency of reproduction and germplasm preservation in swine and poultry to meet the demands of feeding a growing human population. Reproductive traits exhibit low heritability and cannot be phenotypically measured prior to sexual maturity. Moreover, the ability to recover swine and poultry lines from frozen/thawed semen continues to be unreliable. The central focus areas of this Project Plan are to provide the poultry and swine industries with the knowledge and tools to (1) predict fertility, (2) store semen under hypothermic conditions without a substantial loss in fertility, and (3) preserve the female genetic contribution through the development of assisted reproductive technologies for complete regeneration of poultry lines. To enable the prediction of fertility, genetic and biological markers associated with sperm quality and female fertility rates will be identified through comprehensive omic profiling. Several approaches will be used to improve cryoconservation of male and female germplasm, including: 1) physiological and omic assessments of poultry and swine males with known semen cryotolerance or cryosensitivity; 2) investigation into the molecular mechanisms leading to the high incidence of early embryonic death when frozen/thawed turkey semen is used for insemination; 3) further development of technology to preserve ovary vitrification and transplantation in the turkey; 4) investigation of poultry sperm vitrification; and 5) refinement of assisted reproductive technologies to regenerate poultry lines from cryobanked germplasm. All these approaches will contribute to improving the efficacy of reproductive technologies in the poultry and swine industries, which is the single most critical challenge to efficient food animal production.