Reproductive Performance in Domestic Ruminants
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Pregnancy loss (embryonic mortality, spontaneous abortions, etc.) has been well documented in all mammals, especially in domestic livestock species and humans and is a major cause of reproductive loss. It has been estimated that only about50-70% of all fertilized oocytes in cattle and 25-30% in humans result in birth of a live offspring; however, identifying the embryos that will not survive to parturition has not been an easy task. In order to dissect the mechanisms of embryonic mortality in cattle we have focused on using extracellular derived microRNA as well as pregnancy associated glycoproteins to develop models to predict embryonic viability. Based on these models, animals will be selected in order to more intensively characterize embryonic mortality or maintenance over the critical times of gestation. The information gained in this project will fill major gaps in scientific knowledge which will aid in the development of stratiges to decrease pregnancy loss. In summary, this project is focused on elucidating the molecular and physiological mechanisms involved in pregnancy establishment and maintenance.