Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

S. Clay Isom


S. Clay Isom


Abby D. Benninghoff


John Stevens


Trista Strauch


Aaron Thomas


Cloning through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) remains highly inefficient twenty years after the first demonstration of the technology with the birth of Dolly. By increasing efficiency by selecting the embryos early in development that are most likely to succeed following transfer into a surrogate mother, the technology could be more routinely utilized to enhance animal agriculture production. SCNT is believed to be highly inefficient as a result of incorrect DNA methylation and gene expression that are accumulated because of the SCNT technique. We proposed the use of a non-toxic, non-invasive detector of cell death, to quantitatively assess embryo competency prior to embryo transfer. We believed we could use SR-FLICA to identify the embryos with low levels of cell death as a result of proper DNA methylation and gene expression. By analyzing the whole embryo, differences in gene expression and DNA methylation were identified in embryos with high and low levels of cell death. However, the level of cell death did not prove to be a reliable indicator of embryo quality in predicting pregnancy outcome. This data supports the commonly held hypothesis that DNA methylation and gene expression after SCNT have random defects as a result of the random nature of resetting the DNA for embryo development. More research is required to identify the embryos which will prove to be successful following SCNT and embryo transfer.