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Trish Berger

Professor, Department of Animal Science

Research Statement:

The long-term focus in our laboratory is mammalian fertilization and the molecules involved in the fertilization process. Research is centered on interactions between sperm and oocyte plasma membrane molecules after sperm have undergone the acrosome reaction since our earlier work demonstrated that this was frequently the limiting step in vivo in subfertile animals. Details of these interactions including receptor/ligand pairings are still largely unknown. Environmental stresses such as elevated ambient temperature affect both the sperm’s ability and the oocyte’s ability to interact with each other at the plasma membrane level. We hypothesize that this is due to decreased/defective synthesis of interacting molecules. Our research typically involves in vitro fertilization or aspects of those procedures such as sperm penetration of zona-free oocytes as bioassays to support molecular studies evaluating individual molecules. Occasionally, research includes artificial or natural insemination to assess differences in in vivo fertility among males or females or to assess other parameters of reproduction in conjunction with sperm-oocyte interaction.

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