Department of Reproduction Biology

Understanding reproductive characteristics and strategies for the benefit of species conservation

The Department Reproductive Biology investigates reproductive traits and the impact of environmental factors on fertility.

We study the development and maturation of germ cells, their functional interactions in the male and female genital tract and the endocrine regulation of reproductive processes. Our research also focuses on the long-term preservation of germ cells and gonadal tissues of wildlife animals, and on the determination of hormones in diverse matrices, like serum, faeces, urine, hair and cell culture medium.We apply modern methods of cell biology, biochemistry, endocrinology and chemical analysis. We pass on our expert knowledge to young scientists and practitioners in workshops, summer schools and at self-organized and co-organized conferences. >> More information

Selected projects of the department

Reproduction biology of lynx – basic research for conservation breeding of Iberian lynx

Similar to other big predators, Lynx play an important ecological role. The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus Temminck, 1827) was declared as critically endangered (IUCN 2002). We are scientific partners of the conservation breeding program for the Iberian lynx. Due to the captive breeding and reintroduction efforts the lynx population on the Iberian peninsula has been stabilized, hereby unequivocally contributing to the conservation of the local biodiversity. 

Biobanking for assisted reproduction techniques

Assisted reproduction techniques help to maintain the biodiversity. In particular the cryopreservation of gametes is an essential option to preserve the genetic diversity of wild animals and to support breeding programs in zoos.

Wildlife endocrinology

Wildlife endocrinology is largely based on non-invasive monitoring of reproductive and adrenocortical hormones of zoo-and wildlife. Our laboratory has the expertise, reagents and instruments availalbe for related research and is experienced in method development and validation for a variety of species and matrices. Most commonly explored matrices in our laboraty are faeces, urine and hair.

Functional biodiversity of cells belonging to the reproductive system

The evolution of reproductive strategies causes species-specific peculiarities of reproductive processes. The function of cells within the reproductive tracts may also change in dependence of development, cycle or season. We analyse the basic cellular and molecular processes to understand the functional adaptations in reproduction.