Dr Emma Spikings

Research Fellow

BMedSc PhD

Dr Spikings moved to LIRANS (now iBEST) in October 2007 to investigate the impact of cryopreservation on zebrafish oocytes and embryos.

This work benefits from Dr Spikings’ molecular biology expertise gained during her PhD studies at the University of Birmingham where she investigated the control of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication. MtDNA replication control mechanisms were studied in porcine in vitro maturing oocytes and pre-implantation embryos and in murine embryonic stem cells undergoing differentiation, with particular interest in how they were disrupted through the use of low quality oocytes and nuclear transfer technologies.

On completion of her PhD, she moved to the University of Warwick to carry out research on human oocytes and embryos in collaboration with local clinics. Research consisted of two elements: 1) development of protocols for the study of oxidative stress in human embryos and 2) development of a model to study prenatal human oocyte development, both of which developed skills benefiting the current project at iBEST.
Dr Emma Spikings

Although many cells survive and appear unharmed by cryopreservation, it is possible that there may be subtle alterations at the molecular level that are not immediately obvious. Early evidence has suggested that mitochondrial DNA may be affected and the aim of the current research project is to investigate the effect of cryopreservation on mitochondrial function.

Primary Research Papers

  • J. Facucho-Oliveira, J. Alderson, E. Spikings, S. Egginton, J. St. John (2007) Mitochondrial DNA replication during differentiation of murine embryonic stem cells. Journal of Cell Science 120 4025-4034
  • EC Spikings, J Alderson and JC St. John (2007) Regulated mtDNA replication during oocyte maturation is essential for successful porcine embryonic development. Biology of Reproduction 76 327-335. Published in the ‘Highlights’ section of the issue.
  • El Shourbagy SH*, Spikings EC*, Freitas M, St John JC (2006) Mitochondria directly influence fertilisation outcome in the pig. Reproduction 131 233-245.
    * joint first authors


  • EC Spikings, J Alderson and JC St. John (2006) Transmission of mitochondrial DNA following assisted reproduction and nuclear transfer. Human Reproduction Update 12 401-415.
  • St John JC, Lloyd RE, Bowles EJ, Thomas EC (maiden name), El Shourbagy S (2004) The consequences of nuclear transfer for mammalian foetal development and offspring survival: A mitochondrial DNA perspective. Reproduction 127 631-41.

Book contributions

Justin C. St. John, Alexandra Amaral, Emma Bowles, João Facucho, Rhiannon Lloyd, Mariana Freitas, Heather L. Gray, Christopher S. Navara, Gisela Oliveira, Gerald P. Schatten, Emma Spikings and João Ramalho-Santos (2006) The analysis of mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA in human embryonic stem cells. In: Methods in Molecular Biology (Ed. KursadTurksen) vol. 331, Humana Press. ISBN: 1-58829-497-8.


  • Geraldine M Hartshorne, Emma C Spikings and Emeka Oloto (2008) Establishing a model of prenatal oogenesis. Association of Clinical Embryologists Annual Conference 2008.
  • Joao Facucho-Oliveira, Jon Alderson, Emma Spikings and Justin St. John (2007) Loss of Pluripotency, Cell Fate Commitment and Mitochondrial DNA Biogenesis are Sequential Events during Murine Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation. 2nd Annual International Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Stem Cells and Cellular Therapies (SPCE-TC).
  • Emma Spikings and Justin St. John (2006) Delayed TFAM and PolG activity reduces oocyte competence. Society for Reproduction and Fertility Annual Conference 2006.
  • João Facucho, Emma Spikings, Emma Bowles, Jon Alderson and Justin St. John (2006) Regulation of mitochondrial DNA replication during murine Embryonic Stem Cells differentiation. Society for Reproduction and Fertility: Annual Conference 2006.
  • Emma Spikings, Joao Facucho and Justin St. John (2005) Loss of pluripotency triggers mtDNA differentiation. Society for Reproduction and Fertility Annual Conference 2005.

Contact details

E: emma.spikings@beds.ac.uk
T: +44 (0)1582 743732
F: +44 (0)1582 743741


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