Generating a Female Selective Sheep Breed
Research project 15
Project researcher: Dr. Eran Gershon

In all dairy farm animals including dairy sheep, the farmer typically needs mainly the females as they produce milk, while males are considered to cause economical and time losses. In addition, their destiny is considered an animal welfare issue. Therefore, it will be very advantageous for a breeder to be able to predetermine the gender of each embryo produced in the case of dairy industries, females are preferred. To date, the only available method for gender selection is to use sorted semen. However, this method has a limited accuracy of about 75%, it is laborious, as the sorting procedure must be applied at every insemination to every semen sample used, and it is of considerable financial investment, as the farmer pays for every sorting. Another huge problem using sort semen in sheep is that unlike cows insemination is a very complicated process involved laprascopic surgery with low success rates that makes it very not attractive or or economical for breeders.

Therefore, the aim of this project is to generate sheep breed that is expected to have a higher proportion of female offspring which will be non-GMO. For this purpose, oocytes will be recovered from sheep ovaries and will be microinjected with sgRNA and CAS9 in order to silence  genes involved in males development and survival.

Research project 15 - Dr. Eran Gershon
In vitro fertilization in sheep

Then, the oocytes will be fertilized and embryos will be produced in vitro and transplanted in recipient sheep uteri. Upon lambing, the gender of each lamb will be determined.

We will continue to monitor the lambs’ development, growth and weight as well as age of sexual maturation, fertility performances and milk production and composition.

Project researcher:

ד"ר ערן גרשון

Dr. Eran Gershon
Project researcher

Cattle and sheep research, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Institute.

Email: erang@volcani.agri.gov.il

Phone: +972-8-9484423

Website: Dr. Eran Gershon

Research areas:

  • Fertility research.
  • Ovarian function and the effect of stress on ovarian function.
  • Embryo implantation.
  • Maternal-fetal crosstalk and factors involved in embryo attachment to the uterus, placenta-specific gene manipulation.

Research partner:

אסתר קרצ'ובסקי-שושן

Esther Karchovski-Shoshan
PhD student

institution:
Department of Animal Sciences, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food & Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.