It is also implicated in the decreasing competitiveness of the Irish dairy industry, which results in increased numbers of people leaving dairy farming with negative consequences to both the industry and fabric of rural communities in Ireland.
And while milk prices are at an all time high at present, the future globalisation of agricultural markets has the potential to reverse this and put increased pressure on dairy farm income. It is imperative therefore, to address the critical problem of low fertility in dairy cows in order to have a positive impact on the Irish dairy sector which is responsible for over a quarter of all food exports and is a major contributor to the prepared food sector (22% of total exports),
Low fertility is mostly a result of events before or after insemination. And to overcome these barriers we require a greater understanding of the biochemical and cellular processes behind the co-ordinated physiological regulation of ovarian, oocyte, embryo and uterine function at this important time.
With a recent grant award of €7.4 million from Science Foundation Ireland (announced on 13 November 2007), a group of internationally recognised scientists from University College Dublin (UCD) and Teagasc, along with industry partners Pfizer and Biotrin Technologies, will focus on investigating the biology of peri-ovulatory and post ovulatory events that lead to the establishment of pregnancy in the dairy cow.
“The idea is to develop approaches and/or technologies to improve fertility in dairy cows, discoveries which may also have real implications for the treatment of infertility in other species, particularly humans,” says Professor Alexander Evans from the UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science, and Veterinary Medicine, who is leading the research project.
“The intensive selection for increased milk production, coupled with improved nutrition which has led to significant improvements in milk output per cow over recent decades has resulted in a serious decline in cow fertility worldwide,” explains Professor Evans. “A decline in first service conceptions rates of about 1% per year has been reported.”
“This new research aims to enable us to counteract this decline in dairy cow fertility,” he says. “With a critical mass and using the latest technologies, our multi-disciplinary team of researchers and industry scientists will analyse a continuum of critical biological events which lead to pregnancy to find solutions to these fertility problems.”
The industry partners on the research project, Pfizer Animal Health and Biotrin have identified this area of research as having major potential for the development of new products for a global market. Both companies have already commercialised reproduction-related products and have major ongoing Research and Development programmes in the area.
Pfizer scientists will bring their scientific technologies and commercial insights and acumen to enhance the commercial strength of the project through chemical synthesis, evaluation, and screening of new biomarkers and potential therapies to modulate reproductive function. Scientists in Biotrin will assist in the development and commercialisation of diagnostic products.
The grant support received from SFI towards this research project clearly demonstrates the government’s acknowledgement of the importance of the agri-food industries and, in particular, the dairy industry to Ireland’s future prosperity. This significant investment in research and scientific training will further serve a knowledge driven agricultural industry in Ireland.
Dominic Martella | alfa
Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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