Wild ruminants are prominent and fairly popular species. In Spain, they have a great social importance, being related to hunting and to eco-tourism activities. Especially in the South of Spain, hunting has a great economical importance, being an important factor for the subsistence of many rural communities. Moreover, the number of red deer farms have increased, to provide game reserves with good quality animals. Deer meat contains low fat and is very nutritive, with farmed deer yielding meat of excellent palatability.
Despite of important advances in the knowledge of the reproductive biology of several deer species (mainly, red deer), there is a lot to investigate. We are trying to answer a practical and a basic question: how can we improve sperm cryopreservation in cervids? and, which underlying, cellular and molecular, changes occur during cooling and cryopreservation?
These are important questions not only for our Iberian deer species (Iberian red deer and roe deer), but also to endangered cervids elsewhere in the world (specially South-American species such as the huemul and pudu). Technology transfer from well-known species to related but less studied species might improve their conservation.
Dr. Felipe Martínez Pastor leads this research line. We are currently aiming at improving the cryopreservation of red deer spermatozoa by using antioxidants and other supplements. Together with the BIOFREZ group, we are studying the metabolism of melatonin in the genital tract of this species.