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Type: Journal article
Title: Transient treatment of pregnant Merino ewes with modulators of cortisol biosynthesis coinciding with primary wool follicle initiation alters lifetime wool growth
Author: McDowall, M.
Watson-Haigh, N.
Edwards, N.
Kadarmideen, H.
Nattrass, G.
McGrice, H.
Hynd, P.
Citation: Animal Production Science, 2013; 53(10):1101-1111
Publisher: C S I R O Publishing
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 1836-0939
Statement of
M. L. McDowall, N. S. Watson-Haigh, N. M. Edwards, H. N. Kadarmideen, G. S. Nattrass, H. A. McGrice and P. I. Hynd
Abstract: The economically important characteristics of the adult fleece of Merino sheep, such as increases in clean fleece weight, fibre length, fibre diameter and crimp characteristics are determined during critical phases of fetal development of the skin and its appendages. Genetics plays a major role in the development of traits, but the maternal uterine environment could also influence development. Treatment of pregnant ewes with cortisol and its analogues has previously been shown to produce changes in wool follicle morphology. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of transient manipulation of maternal cortisol status during critical phases of wool follicle initiation and development in utero. From Days 55–65 post-conception, singleton-bearing Merino ewes were treated with metyrapone (cortisol inhibitor) or betamethasone (cortisol analogue). Lambs exposed to metyrapone in utero were born with hairier birthcoats than the control or betamethasone treatment groups (P < 0.05), displayed a 10% increase in staple length and a reduction in crimp frequency for the first three shearings (P < 0.05). Co-expression network analysis of microarray data revealed up-regulation of members of the transforming growth factor-β and chemokine receptor superfamilies, gene families known to influence hair and skin development. These experiments demonstrate that presumptive transient manipulation of maternal cortisol status coinciding with the initiation of fetal wool follicle development results in long-term alteration in fleece characteristics, namely fibre length and fibre crimp frequency. These results indicate it is possible to alter the lifetime wool production of Merino sheep with therapeutics targeted to gene expression during key windows of development in utero.
Rights: Journal compilation © CSIRO 2013
DOI: 10.1071/AN12193
Appears in Collections:Animal and Veterinary Sciences publications
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