DNA Fertility Screening in Livestock

DNA strands

This project is enabling further development and deployment of Kent-developed screening tools for two of the most common genetic causes of infertility in livestock: chromosomal translocations and sperm DNA damage.

Balanced chromosomal translocations in livestock species including boars, bulls, stallions and mares, can cause substantial economic losses to their respective industries as well as environmental damage. We have calculated this to be up to £50 million per boar, up to £7.5 million per bull and are developing similar numbers for horses.  An in-house developed screening device for chromosomal translocations in boars is now in operation; tests for cattle and horses are developed but not yet beta-tested, nor deployed and the purpose of this project is to expedite this process.

Sperm DNA damage is a significant cause of male infertility and early pregnancy loss. In the last year, through the investment of LogixX Pharma, we implemented two flow-cytometry-based screening tests for sperm DNA damage, adapting procedures already amenable human use to livestock. In livestock, the value of semen doses in pigs, cattle and horses means there is an under-exploited potential market that warrants investigation into the substantive financial benefits of deploying the tests in these species.

In addition to generating enterprise activity, our efforts have led (and will continue to lead) to publications in academic journals.