Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences


At the time of fertilization, a dramatic change occurs in the oocyte that transforms this cell from a metaphase arrested state into a metabolically active and dynamic state. The view of the flow of biological processes within organisms has recently shifted from that of a linear path to a more complex network. Biological processes are no longer thought of in the simple terms of DNA to RNA, RNA to proteins, and proteins to final activity. It is now known that many biological processes involve interconnected networks and feedback loops in which DNA, RNA, proteins, and metabolites perform specific roles. We hypothesized that there are key metabolites and metabolic pathways yet to be determined that are involved in normal mammalian fertilization and embryonic development. The key objective of this research project was to study the metabolic profiles of unfertilized oocytes and fertilized zygotes to find the differences in the concentration and flux of key metabolites. Examining these differences provides evidence for which metabolic pathways are important during fertilization. Concentration differences of metabolites were assessed within unfertilized bovine oocytes and in vitro fertilized zygotes. Metabolites were identified using gas chromatography­ mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Differences in metabolite pools pre- and post-fertilization may be used as intracellular biomarkers of normal embryonic development. It was found that D-glucose, arabinose and fumaric acid were present in lower concentrations in the zygote than the unfertilized oocytes.



Faculty Mentor

Dr. Lee Rickords