Reproductive biology (RBU)

About us

The head of our team is Prof. dr. Ann Van Soom. We are investigating the interaction of embryos and gametes with their environment in different mammalian species. We are also optimizing cryopreservation and culture techniques.



Prof. dr. Ann Van Soom


Prof. dr. Bart Gadella (Utrecht)

Visiting professor

Fabiola Le Graffic Molto

Lab assistant

dr. Krishna Pavani

Postdoctoral asssistant

dr. Guillaume Domain

Postdoctoral asssistant

dr. Guilherme Rizzoto

Postdoctoral asssistant

drs. Annelies Raes

Doctoral student

drs. Rani Six

Doctoral student

drs. Camilla Benedetti

Doctoral student

drs. Andrea Fernandez Montoro

Doctoral student

drs. Penelope Banchi

Doctoral student

drs. Lotte Spanoghe

Doctoral student

drs. Haitao Li

Doctoral student

drs. Qurratulain Amin

Doctoral student

drs. Tim Huijsmans

Doctoral student

What do we do

We seek to find the answer to the question: "How do embryos react to their environment and how can we improve embryo development in vitro ".

Embryonic differentiation is investigated with in vivo embryos as a golden standard (maternal interaction), by making use of several animal models (cattle, pigs, horses, human) which yields additional information from a comparative point of view. We have previously shown that bovine embryo differentiation is affected by the culture environment and by the maternal tract.

Recently we have also demonstrated the impact of stress on oocyte quality and spermatogenesis in cattle, with concurrent effects on the resulting blastocysts. We are using transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to identify key signaling molecules in embryo development. We are also focusing on the role of extracellular vesicles as signaling vectors for embryo-embryo or embryo-maternal communication.

From a practical point of view, we are improving methods for oocyte vitrification and semen freezing. To this end, we use knowledge obtained on signaling molecules.

A more fundamental research line is focused on signaling pathways involved in oocyte and embryo development, and on 3D culture of follicle and oviduct, in combination with microfluidics.


The RBU fulfils as part of Ghent University tasks in the field of: