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Einfluss klimatischer Veränderungen auf die Fruchtbarkeit von Rindern in Niederösterreich

Einfluss klimatischer Veränderungen auf die Fruchtbarkeit von Rindern in Niederösterreich

Main application:
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

Scientific management:
Vitezslav Havlicek (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna)

Project partners:
Corina Itze-Mayrhofer (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna)
Karen Wagener (University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna)

Research field:
Lebensmittel- und Futtermittelsicherheit, Nachhaltige Landbewirtschaftung und Produktionsoptimierung

Project-ID: FTI20-012
Project start: 01. March 2022
Runtime: 36 months / ongoing
Funding amount: € 286.861,00

Brief summary

Global warming and the associated negative effects of higher ambient temperatures on livestock have become a major challenge for farm animal breeding and sustainable production. Heat stress is one of the most well-known manifestations of global warming in livestock and is mainly associated with decreased dry matter intake, milk yield and fertility. Ultimately, reduced fertility of dairy cows leads to higher involuntary culling rates, reduced life expectancy of the cows and enormous economic losses. Research on heat stress under Austrian conditions, however, is rare. Fertility problems associated with heat stress are mainly caused by the effect of increased body temperature on oocyte and embryonic development. In addition to the direct effect of heat stress, the early embryonic development might be affected by elevated temperature due to alterations of the maternal reproductive tract. Metabolic performance in high yielding dairy cows as a further negative factor can also contribute to dysregulation of homeothermy in the fallopian tube. The present project aims to investigate the effect of short-term heat stress under Lower Austrian conditions on the maternal microenvironment in the bovine oviduct and the early embryonic development in dairy cows. In addition to the analysis of the heat-induced changes in the secretome of bovine oviductal epithelial cells in vitro, the oviductal fluid will be obtained in vivo by transvaginal endoscopy from three different groups of animals according to their milk yield (cows with high or low milk yield and heifers as control animals) during winter and summer. In a next step, the embryonic development in the presence of heat-stress modulated oviductal fluids will be assessed in vitro by expression analysis of selected genes involved in DNA methylation, cell metabolism or served as indicators of developmental competence and quality of the embryo. A more detailed understanding of the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms caused by increased temperatures could be a key to developing effective prevention and management strategies to better assess the negative effects on reproduction in dairy cows and to take the necessary steps to improve fertility. This will contribute to improved competitiveness of Austrian dairy farmers under changing environmental conditions.
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