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Australia: Award winning pig egg cells

Vital research to reduce seasonal infertility, an ongoing problem for Australia's pig industry, has been rewarded with a 2009 Science and Innovation Award for Michael Bertoldo, a Pork CRC supported PhD student at The University of Sydney.

Bertoldo was presented with the Australian Pork Limited Award, part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Science and Innovation Awards for Young People for 2009 at a presentation dinner at Parliament House, Canberra.

He also recently won the Meat and Livestock Australia Award for his presentation on oocyte quality, 'Reduced oocyte developmental competence during the period of seasonal infertility in pigs', at the 2009 Society for Reproductive Biology Annual Conference in Adelaide.

Bertoldo's research addresses the problem of infertility that affects approximately 5-10% of sows mated during late summer and early autumn that lose their pregnancies. “Seasonal infertility has a big economic impact on producers who are unable to maintain their usual production volumes,” Bertoldo said.

His research links seasonal infertility to the quality of the oocyte - or egg cell - and he proposes that oocyte quality is possibly linked to the length of lactation. “My research suggests short lactation periods may impact fertility by negatively affecting reproductive hormones that influence oocyte quality and early embryo development,” he said.

Congratulating Bertoldo on winning both awards, Dr Roger Campbell, CEO of the Pork CRC, said his research was another example of the valuable contribution the Pork CRC's post graduate students were making to the Australian pig industry.

“If we can accurately determine the causes of reduced reproductive performance at this critical time of the year, producers can be better prepared with strategies to reduce pregnancy loss,” Dr Campbell said.

“Michael's work has made big strides towards this goal and when these strategies are eventually extended to the Australian industry it could give our producers a competitive advantage over their international competition.

“Other post graduate researchers at the Pork CRC are working in equally important areas such as reducing embryo mortality with better post mating nutritional strategies.

“It's this kind of challenging, practically-oriented research work that has made the Pork CRC a very desirable destination for Australia's top post graduates, while keeping our research sharply focussed on improving competitiveness and profitability for Australia's pork producers,” Dr Campbell concluded.

Related website
• Pork CRC

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