Advances in cattle breeding
The Food Futures Flagship has demonstrated successful transfer of testis germ cells in ruminants.
6 February 2007 | Updated 23 November 2012
Scientists in the Food Futures Flagship have completed the first step in a project to improve the quality of cattle in Australia’s hot, arid northern regions.
What we did
The scientists successfully transplanted sperm-producing cells from donor rams into the testes of rams of a different breed.
The successful outcome is a critical step towards developing testis germ cell transplantation (TGCT) for cattle.
Mustering the large breeding herds for artificial insemination programs can be difficult and expensive."
The experiments in sheep resulted in rams that produced sperm cells containing genetic material from the donor rams.
When these rams were mated with ewes, some of the resulting lambs had been sired by the donor sperm, meaning that they had received genetic material from the donor ram.
The recipient rams were followed for five years after the transplantation procedure, and continued to produce donor sperm during this time.
The team is now working towards using this procedure in beef bulls.
Outcomes for industry
The successful outcome is an important step towards developing stem cell technology to transfer testis germ cells from donors with desirable genetics to the testes of Brahman bull recipients.
Around 60 per cent of Australia's beef cattle live in northern Australia.
Mustering the large breeding herds in this part of the country for artificial insemination programs can be difficult and expensive.
TGCT techniques could in the future be used to benefit the northern beef industry by treating Brahman bulls with Angus donor sperm.
When these bulls mate with Brahman cows, they could sire crossbred Brahman-Angus calves without the need for artificial insemination.
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