Fertility

Fertility

Role of mitochondria in female fertility

Degree - MRes, MPhil, PhD

Programme

Mitochondria are inherited through the oocyte cytoplasm and replication of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) does not usually occur during early pre-implantation embryo development. The mtDNA molecules present in the mature oocyte at fertilisation are therefore relied upon for all embryonic mitochondrial activity. Abnormalities in mitochondria and/or mtDNA have been linked to aged and low quality oocytes and to abnormal fertilisation and embryo development, all associated with female factor infertility. Using zebrafish as a model organism, this project aims to investigate in more depth the role of mitochondria during oocyte maturation and embryo development and the mechanisms through which their role can be compromised as oocytes age. Later work will focus on identifying markers for mitochondrially ‘competent’ oocytes which can be used to investigate the most suitable in vitro techniques for culturing and cryopreserving these oocytes. Data obtained from this work could then be used to develop better techniques for selection of the best oocytes for IVF treatments.

For more information please contact Dr Emma Spikings: emma.spikings AT beds.ac.uk

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