BIOFITER (Biology, Physiology and Reproductive Technologies)

Presentation

BIOFITER is a multidisciplinary group that focuses on improving the reproductive efficiency of domestic and wild species of animals, enhancing the viability of animal husbandry through gains in reproductive efficiency.  

The team carries out studies of a basic and applied orientation in the fields of cellular and molecular biology and animal production. The studies undertaken by the group contribute new insights on the role of extensive livestock farming in the maintenance of biodiversity, and, in the case of bees, their contribution to the pollination of plant species.

The main objective of the group is to develop reproductive and management technologies aimed at achieving sustainable livestock production of the species that are of special interest in the Autonomous Region of Aragon, on the basis of our knowledge of their biology and physiology.

Lines of investigation

  1. Epidemiological study of the factors that affect reproductive efficiency in ruminants.
  2. Artificial insemination: basic and applied aspects.
  3. Improvement in reproductive efficiency and conservation of biodiversity in apiculture.
  4. Study of the molecular response mechanisms of spermatozoa to the hormones present in the female reproductive tract (steroid hormones and melatonin) in the processes of capacitation and apoptosis.
  5. Study of the mechanisms of guided movement of spermatozoa in response to various stimuli (primarily chemotaxis) and development of new devices for analysis.
  6. Development of free software for the analysis of various parameters of semen quality.
  7. Assessment of the influence of the consumption of diets rich in phytomelatonin on the reproductive parameters and semen quality of the ram.
  8. Socio-sexual factors in the ovine species.
  9. Precision livestock farming.

Projects undertaken

The group has had uninterrupted public financing for the last 20 years through Spain’s national research programs.  

The most recent projects are the following:

  • “The effect of hormones in the female reproductive tract on sperm functionality”
  • “Melatonin metabolism in the male genital tract. Implications of this hormone for semen quality and the physiology of spermatozoa”
  • “Towards an integrated analysis of sperm quality in cattle and sheep”
  • “Towards sustainable reproductive management: the presence of sexually active males as a work tool” (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness).

Furthermore, we would highlight the application of reproductive biotechnologies to the conservation and improvement of the Spanish bee and a line of investigation focusing on the development of precision livestock farming.  

The group has a number of research contracts with businesses in the sector.

 

Infrastructure

In Zaragoza (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine):

  1. Cell separation unit: system of centrifugal countercurrent distribution.
  2. Flow cytometer
  3. Fluorescence microscopes
  4. ODYSSEY system for densitometric analysis by ultraviolet and infrared
  5. Spectrophotometers
  6. Reproduction laboratory for IVF and IVM processes
  7. Computer analysis system for sperm motility
  8. CO2 incubator
  9. Thermal cyclers
  10. Osmometer
  11. Ultrasound systems
  12. Programmable biofreezer
  13. Programmable thermostatically controlled bath
  14. 1 and 2-D electrophoresis systems  
  15. Chromatographic systems  
  16. Refrigerated centrifuges and ultracentrifuges
  17. Apparatus for electrophoresis and protein transfer

In Huesca (EPS, Technical College):

  1. Microscopy laboratory  
  2. Image analysis unit
  3. CASA system for sperm analysis
  4. Gamete micromanipulation
  5. ELISA
  6. Reproduction laboratory for IVF and IVM processes
  7. Molecular biology laboratory

 

Technological Offer/Services

The technological offers of the group are as follows*:

  • Consultancy on reproductive management in ruminant and bee farms; consultancy on methods relating to artificial insemination and other reproductive biotechnologies.
  • Studies in optical and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
  • Study of semen quality (spermiogram).
  • Conservation of fresh and frozen semen.
  • Selection of stud animals.
  • Studies on precision livestock farming.

* The technological offer detailed above is not offered as services strictly speaking of the University of Zaragoza

DGA GROUP REFERENCE: A07_17R
YEAR OF CREATION: 2017
NUMBER OF THESES SUPERVISED: 5
NUMBER OF PUBLICATIONS: 165

Chief Investigator:

José Alfonso Abecia Martínez

alf@unizar.es