Estonian University of Life Sciences (Estonia) will be the primary recipient of training and consultation, so that it can build its capacity and scientific excellence in the areas of Animal Reproduction and Embryo technologies. EMU has a strong foundation, being one of the top institutions in these fields in Eastern Europe. For example, EMU has bovine in vitro production experience since 1992. EMU introduced bovine somatic cell nucleus transfer cloning techniques in 2007 and produced bovine cloned embryos since spring 2008 on a regular basis for the research purposes. In 2012, the first cloned calf was born, EMU was the first university in Estonia where whole genome sequencing of Estonian Holstein cow and bull genome were carried through. EMU is the only university in Estonia for the integration of academic education and research activities in the field of sustainable use of natural resources, food production, technology and veterinary medicine. The Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences performs teaching and R&D activities in the field of animal nutrition, genetics and breeding, reproductive biology, biotechnology, animal health, food safety and food technology. Research and development at the Department of Reproductive Biology are focused on fertility and infertility in large animals and reproductive biotechnology. EMU still has significant gaps in technical expertise and institutional networking and infrastructure that has limited its impact and hinders future advancement. You can find more information from https://www.emu.ee/en/
Description and main tasks
The history of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMU) goes back to 1848 when the Tartu Veterinary Institute was founded. In 1919, the Faculty of Agriculture was founded at the Tartu University. Tartu Veterinary Institute became the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the Tartu University. In 1951, an independent university - the Estonian Academy of Agriculture - was founded on the basis of Tartu University faculties of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Science. From 1991, the institution was called the Estonian Agricultural University and from 2005, the Estonian University of Life Sciences. EMU is the only university in Estonia the priorities of which in academic and research activities provide the sustainable development of natural resources necessary for the existence of mankind as well as the preservation of heritage and habitat. EMU is the only university in Estonia for the integration of academic education and research activities in the field of sustainable use of natural resources, food production, technology, veterinary medicine, rural life and economy. According to QS World University Rankings by subject, the Estonian University of Life Sciences is one of top 200 universities in the world in the field of agriculture and forestry. The Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators database places the Estonian University of Life Sciences into the top 1% most cited research facilities in the world in the field of plant and animal science.
The Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences of performs teaching and R&D activities in the field of animal nutrition, genetics and breeding, reproductive biology, biotechnology, animal health, food safety and food technology. Research and development at the Department of Reproductive Biology are focused on fertility and infertility in large animals and reproductive biotechnology. Special attention is paid to the problems of ovarian function, luteal function and embryonic mortality in dairy cows in high input environments (prof A. Waldmann), oocyte and embryo quality and biotechnology of reproduction (prof Ü. Jaakma), diagnostics and treatment of reproductive disorders (J. Kurykin, PhD), sperm quality and male (in)fertility (T. Hallap, PhD). During last years, there is a particular interest to genomics and transcriptomics of early development in mammals (prof S. Kõks).
EMU has evaluated importance of different sperm characteristics from the aspect of their fertilizing ability, including usefulness of various conventional (morphology, subjectively estimated motility, and hypo-osmotic resistance) and more advanced sperm quality tests (computer-assisted sperm motion analysis, flow cytometry analysis of mitochondrial activity, membrane integrity, and membrane fluidity) in assessing frozen-thawed semen. They have also studied the influence of sperm preparation methods prior to quality measurements as well as effects of age and breed on semen quality, and are working on development of models for the bull fertility prediction based on laboratory measurements.
EMU has bovine in vitro production (IVP) experience since 1992. They have introduced bovine somatic cell nucleus transfer cloning techniques and produced bovine cloned embryos since 2009 on a regular basis for the research purposes. In 2012, the first cloned calf was born. Technology for the large animal cloning has formed a basis for the further research on transgenic technologies in cooperation with the Competence Centre on Health Technologies (CCHT). EMU is a member of several research networks, including COST networks in epigenetics and large animal models. They work in good collaboration with the Transgenic Technology Core Laboratory and Institute of Physiology of University of Tartu, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Gene Center of the University of Munich, INRA (France) and many others.
Core lab competences of EMU include generation of fetal cell lines, somatic cell nucleus transfer and in vitro culture of bovine embryos up to the blastocyst stage. The competence of the production of gene construct coupling the gene for the particular drug with a DNA signal directing production of it into the mammary gland is essential for the generation of transgenic fibroblast cell lines that are used for the SCNT cloning. Competence of generation of corresponding transgenic mouse models provided by UT, has had crucial importance in the development of transgenic technology in large animals, as a fast method for the preliminary evaluation of the efficiency of the gene construct integration into the genome and activation during the lactation. Excellent veterinary competence provided by the EMU Large Animal Clinic is an inevitable part of generation of transgenic animals. This includes experience in embryo transfer, monitoring of ongoing pregnancies, early detection of fetal and placental abnormalities, planning the Caesarean section if necessary and intensive care of newborns. Competence of purification and characterization of peptides from the milk that is necessary for the initial evaluation of milk as raw material for the pharmaceutical industry, is provided by researchers of CCHT and TBD Biodiscovery.