Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Fieldays scholarship to study cattle embryonic development

4 June 2014

Fieldays scholarship to study embryonic development in cattle

Waikato University student Brooke Wilson has been awarded a $5000 New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays Sir Don Llewellyn Scholarship for her study into the effects of NANOG down-regulation in bovine embryos.

Brooke is studying for her Master of Science in biological science while working for AgResearch’s Stem Cell research team. The team is investigating the expression of genes throughout the early stages of embryonic development in cattle.

Embryonic stems cells (ESCs) are cells that are isolated from the early embryo that have the ability to self-renew indefinitely and turn into any cell type of that adult animal –a phenomenon known as pluripotency. Researchers have been able to derive ESCs in mice. However, attempts to replicate the process in other mammals have not yet been successful.

One gene that was found to be important for establishing pluripotency in mice is NANOG. NANOG encodes the transcription factor NANOG which regulates the expression of a variety of genes involved in self-renewal and plays a central role in the transcriptional network for pluripotency.

Brooke’s research is aimed at selectively reducing NANOG expression in bovine embryos, to better understand the gene’s function specifically in cattle.

“Basically we want to know if NANOG also plays a significant role in establishing pluripotency in cows as it does in mice. We would also like to identify the various genes that NANOG influences.

“The results from this project will assist in improving our understanding of cattle reproduction and embryology, with the future goal of generating a truly embryonic stem cell line for livestock animals.”

Brooke says that ESC research will have a significant economic impact on the nation, due to its potential to improve animal productivity and ensure that desirable traits can be passed on to the next livestock generation with much more certainty and speed.

“New Zealand’s economy is largely reliant on the success of its livestock industry. The beef and dairy sectors alone generate over a third of the country’s export earnings. Improving animal productivity is an important priority for farmers and, by extension, the country as a whole.”

The New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays Scholarships are awarded each year to graduate students undertaking research at the University of Waikato with a specific focus on the agricultural sector.

This year the scholarship was split between Brooke and management student, Thomas Macdonald. Thomas was awarded $17,000 to assist his study into the cost of environmental compliance in the dairy industry.

Waikato University has a long-standing association with Fieldays – the university’s founding Vice-Chancellor Sir Don Llewellyn helped establish the event in the 1960s - and as the key tertiary institution in the Waikato region, the university has been a Strategic Partner of the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays for the past eight years.

Fieldays CEO Jon Calder he’s delighted to have two recipients of the scholarship. “Their work and research will make a real difference to New Zealand agriculture. Our founding purpose is to advance New Zealand agriculture. Thomas and Brooke will be fantastic ambassadors for Fieldays, the University and New Zealand.”

Mr Calder says the students’ work complements the 2014 Fieldays theme - Managing Resources for a Competitive Advantage. “Thomas’ research is addressing a current topical issue for our farmers while Brooke’s work will create new opportunity and possibilities for the future genetic lines of New Zealand’s cattle.”


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Before The Quakes

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past: The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land... More>>

6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Leonardo da Vinci - The Graphic Work

The breadth of da Vinci’s work is incredible: from animals to weaponry, architecture to fabric, maps to botany. The works have been divided into themes such as Proportion Drawings, Anatomical Drawings and Drawings of Maps and Plans. Each section begins with a short essay. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: James Hector: Explorer, Scientist, Leader

Publication of this comprehensive 274-page account of the life and work of James Hector by the Geoscience Society of New Zealand marks the 150th anniversary of James Hector’s appointment as New Zealand’s first government scientist. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news