student profile: Miss Charley Pollard


Thesis work

Thesis title: Dietary Supplements for Improving Fertility in Mares

Supervisors: Zamira GIBB, Christopher GRUPEN

Thesis abstract:

The Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse industries in Australia contribute approximately $6.3 billion to the annual gross domestic product. There is a lack of knowledge in equine reproduction that leads to inefficiencies in breeding and contributes to an estimated revenue loss of $750 million per annum.

The reproductive fecundity of horses is much lower than other livestock species such as sheep, cattle and pigs, with a high incidence of embryonic loss that occurs following 25% of successful fertilizations in Standardbred horses. Ongoing research into factors that affect fertility in horses are steadily increasing, but studies examining the factors that affect oocyte quality are lacking. Nutrition plays a vital role in improving body condition in cattle and sheep, and some studies have shown improvements in fertility upon supplemental feeding. However, the role of feed supplements in improving oocyte quality and fertility in mares are absent.

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme required for many fundamental biochemical pathways, including the activation of the sirtuin family of proteins, involved in cellular metabolism and aging. This research project aims to investigate the role of vitamin B3, a precursor for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, and its activation of sirtuins in the oocyte, improving oocyte quality and developmental competence, and promoting embryonic development in mares. This will promote further research into reducing embryonic loss which will translate to a substantial reduction in the loss of revenue for both the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries.

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