Our mission is to understand the molecular mechanisms that drive fertility and the early stages of embryo development and implantation in mammals. To achieve our goals, we are strongly committed to combining experimental, and systems genomics approaches to understand the dynamics of gene regulatory and signaling networks that orchestrate successful events related to fertility or infertility. Our efforts focus on three primary thrusts: 1) Molecular profiling of heifer infertility; 2) The acquisition of developmental competence in oocytes and the molecular signals of embryo survival; 3) Molecular communication between conceptus and endometrium.

Our research program is partially funded by:

- The United States Department of Agriculture

- Virginia Cattle Industry Board


Molecular profiling of heifer infertility

There are several causes infertility. In the Biase Lab, we are tackling the problem in heifers in beef and dairy cattle. Our multidisciplinary program aims at profiling blood born molecules for the comprehensive investigation of genetic and physiological alterations that contribute to infertility. Then, we employ artificial intelligence algorithms for the prediction of fertility heifers early as early as 6 months of age.

biase lab heifer fertility

The acquisition of developmental competence in oocytes

biase lab oocyte

The female gamete stores massive amounts of RNAs, proteins and metabolites. The qualitative and quantitative composition of these stores define the ability of this oocyte to be fertilized and sustain the early embryo development. We are interested in understanding the regulatory venues that drive the synthesis of RNA in oocytes. Furthermore, we focus on unveiling how the accumulation of RNAs will contribute to the oocyte developmental competence.

Early stages of mammalian development

The initial cell cycles of the mammalian organisms are an intriguing, and amazing, phase of the development. The development of a complex multicellular organism from one cell (also called zygote) is far from being understood by developmental biologists. In our lab, we are researching the gene regulatory network wiring that allows the embryo to successfully reach the blastocyst stage. First, we are interested in understanding how the embryo’s genome is activated. Then, we are investigating how the cells (also called blastomeres) differentiate towards two distinct cell types, forming the inner cell mass and the trophectoderm.

biase lab blastocysts

Conceptus-maternal communication


After the formation of blastocyst, the embryos hatch from the zona pelucida and the embryonic cells are in immediate contact with the endometrial cells in the uterus. Then, a two-way molecular communication takes place so that the embryo is not rejected by the endometrium and is nourished by the uterus. This communication is essential for the successful implantation and subsequent placentation. We are interested in finding the multitude of pathways the conceptus uses communicates with the endometrium and vice-versa.

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Fernando Biase
Fernando Biase

Chace Wilson
Chace Wilson

Kaitlyn Hamilton

Mackenzie Marrella

Chace Wilson
Jada Nix

Reganne Roach

Former lab members and their next endeavors

Bailey Walker - MS 2020 - Embryologist and Laboratory Technician at Alabama Center for Reproductive Medicine
Sarah E Moorey - PhD 2019 - Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee
Katelyn Kimble - MS 2018 - Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

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For a complete list of publications, please visit Pubmed or Google Scholar. BioRxiv papers can be loaded using bioRxiv


Biase FH. Isolation of high-quality total RNA and RNA sequencing of single bovine oocytes. STAR Protocols. 2021; 2(4).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100895. PDF

Moorey SE, Walker BN, Elmore MF, Elmore JB, Rodning SP, Biase FH. Rewiring of gene expression in circulating white blood cells is associated with pregnancy outcome in heifers (Bos taurus). Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 8;10(1):16786. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-73694-w. PDF

Moorey SE, Biase FH. Beef heifer fertility: importance of management practices and technological advancements. J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2020 Oct 1;11:97. doi: 10.1186/s40104-020-00503-9. PDF

Walker BN, Biase FH. The blueprint of RNA storages relative to oocyte developmental competence in cattle (Bos taurus). Biol Reprod. 2020 Apr 15;102(4):784-794. doi: 10.1093/biolre/ioaa015. abstract

Biase FH, Hue I, Dickinson SE, Jaffrezic F, Laloe D, Lewin HA, Sandra O. Fine-tuned adaptation of embryo-endometrium pairs at implantation revealed by transcriptome analyses in Bos taurus. PLoS Biol. 2019 Apr 12;17(4):e3000046. doi: https://10.1371/journal.pbio.3000046. PDF

Dickinson SE, Elmore MF, Kriese-Anderson L, Elmore JB, Walker BN, Dyce PW, Rodning SP, Biase FH. Evaluation of age, weaning weight, body condition score, and reproductive tract score in pre-selected beef heifers relative to reproductive potential. J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2019 Feb 26;10:18. doi: https://10.1186/s40104-019-0329-6. PDF

Biase FH, Wu Q, Calandrelli R, Rivas-Astroza M, Zhou S, Chen Z, Zhong S. Rainbow-Seq: Combining Cell Lineage Tracing with Single-Cell RNA Sequencing in Preimplantation Embryos. iScience. 2018 Sep 28;7:16-29. doi: https://10.1016/j.isci.2018.08.009. PDF

Phillips KM, Read CC, Kriese-Anderson LA, Rodning SP, Brandebourg TD, Biase FH, Marks ML, Elmore JB, Stanford MK, Dyce PW. Plasma metabolomic profiles differ at the time of artificial insemination based on pregnancy outcome, in Bos taurus beef heifers. Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 4;8(1):13196. doi: https://10.1038/s41598-018-31605-0. PDF

Dickinson SE, Biase FH. Transcriptome data of peripheral white blood cells from beef heifers collected at the time of artificial insemination. Data Brief. 2018 Mar 21;18:706-709. doi: https://10.1016/j.dib.2018.03.062. eCollection 2018 Jun. PDF PDF

Biase FH, Kimble KM. Functional signaling and gene regulatory networks between the oocyte and the surrounding cumulus cells. BMC Genomics. 2018 May 10;19(1):351. doi: https://10.1186/s12864-018-4738-2. PDF

Kimble KM, Dickinson SE, Biase FH. Extraction of total RNA from single-oocytes and single-cell mRNA sequencing of swine oocytes. BMC Res Notes. 2018 Feb 27;11(1):155. doi: https://10.1186/s13104-018-3264-2. PDF

Dickinson SE, Griffin BA, Elmore MF, Kriese-Anderson L, Elmore JB, Dyce PW, Rodning SP, Biase FH. Transcriptome profiles in peripheral white blood cells at the time of artificial insemination discriminate beef heifers with different fertility potential. BMC Genomics. 2018 Feb 9;19(1):129. doi: https://10.1186/s12864-018-4505-4. PDF

Biase FH. Oocyte Developmental Competence: Insights from Cross-Species Differential Gene Expression and Human Oocyte-Specific Functional Gene Networks. OMICS. 2017 Mar;21(3):156-168. doi: 10.1089/omi.2016.0177. abstract

Carvalho ME, Eler JP, Bonin MN, Rezende FM, Biase FB, Meirelles FV, Regitano LCA, Coutinho LL, Balieiro JCC, Ferraz JBS. Genotypic and allelic frequencies of gene polymorphisms associated with meat tenderness in Nellore beef cattle. Genet Mol Res. 2017 Feb 16;16(1). doi: https://10.4238/gmr16018957.

Biase FH, Rabel C, Guillomot M, Hue I, Andropolis K, Olmstead CA, Oliveira R, Wallace R, Le Bourhis D, Richard C, Campion, E, Chaulot-Talmon A, Giraud-Delville C, Taghouti G, Jammes H, Renard JP, Sandra O, Lewin, HA. Massive dysregulation of genes involved in cell signaling and placental development in cloned cattle conceptus and maternal endometrium. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016. https://10.1073/pnas.1520945114. PDF

Nguyen TC, Cao X, Yu P, Xiao S, Lu J, Biase FH, Sridhar B, Huang N, Zhang K, Zhong S. Mapping RNA-RNA interactome and RNA structure in vivo by MARIO. Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 24;7:12023. PDF

Adona PR, Leal CL, Biase FH, De Bem TH, Mesquita LG, Meirelles FV, Ferraz AL, Furlan LR, Monzani PS, Guemra S. In vitro maturation alters gene expression in bovine oocytes. Zygote. 2016 Aug;24(4):624-33

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Join us

We look forward to having new team members joining our laboratory to work on a multidisciplinary research program that encompasses the disciplines of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Molecular Genetics, Genomics and Computational Biology. Enthusiastic and goal-oriented researchers who are interested in strengthening their training and developing skills that will help them progress in their career are encouraged to apply.

Prospective graduate students may also choose to be part of the Molecular and Cellular Biology or Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology programs

If you are interested in joining our research program, please send an email to fbiase @ vt.edu.

Our lab is located at 175 W Campus Dr, Blacksburg, VA 24061

We have great facilities that allow us to advance our research.

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In the news

Contemporary and Emerging Issues Symposium I
from ASAS Taking Stock blog post, Published on July 18, 2021

“Dr. Fernando Biase spoke about “Grand Challenges within Breeding and Genetics”"

Predicting cattle infertility through machine-learning
by Max Esterhuizen, Published on September 15, 2020

“Fernando Biase and the other researchers are working to understand the potential gene transcripts that circulate in the animal’s bloodstream that can potentially predict the likelihood of a pregnancy occurring, with the goal of finding out how early these transcripts can be identified in a calf.”

Auburn University researcher working to improve fertility in cattle
by Paul Hollis, Published on July 10, 2019

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Copyright © 2021 Fernando Biase All rights reserved.