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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Zone de texte éditable et éditée et rééditée

Catherine Labbé

Catherine Labbé
© Inra
Epigenetic modifications in sperm and embryo in relation with the impact of preservation biotechnologies

The objective of my research is to provide reliable biotechnologies for genome preservation in aquatic species, which embraces the mastering of cell and tissue cryopreservation, and that of fish regeneration from cryopreserved cells. My research is dedicated to understanding whether cryopreservation is at risk to induce epigenetic alteration in the cryopreserved cells, and how the progeny can be affected. I am also studying how the embryo is properly reprogrammed after nuclear transfer, when the epigenetic and cellular profile of the somatic cell is so different from that of the spermatozoa.

My original background is about cell cryopreservation in fish, and the study of the molecular and cellular parameters involved in fish cell capacity to withstand cryopreservation. My group has also developed the hard won nuclear transfer technology, which allows the reconstruction of a fish from a somatic cell when no germ cell is easily available. Based on this experience, we are now studying whether the preservation biotechnologies affect DNA methylation in sperm and embryos, and how we can improve sperm and somatic cell reprogramming ability, either in vitro or within the oocyte. In the MaRé Research group, we also want to establish how the spermatozoa epigenetic profile is set up during gametogenesis, and which environmental and biotechnological factors are at risk to ultimately alter the proper profile in sperm.

Network and projects

I am member of the CRB Anim PIA French project (2013-2019) where I coordinate the work-package on technological improvements for reproductive material. I have been involved in the scientific coordination of several national projects dedicated to genetic resources preservation, including CCRB/IBiSA CRYOAQUA (2009-2011) which triggered the creation of the French Cryobank for Aquatic Resources (CRYOAQUA) near Rennes. In the H2020 European program AQUAEXCEL2020, I am task leader of the cryobanking network within the consortium. I have been actively involved in the COST project AQUAGAMETE (2013-2016), one of our latest achievements being the Aquaculture special issue on Recent Advances in Fish Gamete and Embryo Research (2017) that I have coordinated with Esther Lubzens and Andrzej Ciereszko. I have developed a long lasting collaboration with Marc Suquet (IFREMER), Pierrick Haffray (SYSAAF) and the IMV Technologies company, to set up cryopreservation in new species and cell types. My latest projects are about the interspecific comparison of DNA methylation pattern in sperm, in relation with chromatin organization (SPERMETH, 2017-2019, coord. H. Jammes, INRA), and about the cryopreservation of immature gonads and the consequences on the epigenetic profile of the gametes produced after grafting (BIOGERM, FEAMP, 2018-2020, coord. JJ Lareyre, INRA).


  • 1992: PhD from Rennes 1 University: Biochemical and biophysical characterization of rainbow trout sperm plasma membrane, changes induced by the diet and the rearing temperature. Supervisor: Dr Maurice Loir.
  • 2003: HDR (Habilitation for Research Supervision) from Rennes 1 University: Molecular and Cellular Damages induced by cryopreservation to fish spermatozoa.


  • 1992: Tenured junior researcher (Chargée de Recherche) at the INRA Fish Physiology Lab in Rennes
  • 1994-1995: Visiting research fellow in Dr John Crowe’s group (UC Davis, USA) and in Dr Richard Sleight’s group, (University of Cincinnati, USA): biochemistry and biophysics of the plasma membrane lipids
  • 2010: Leader of the Cryopreservation and regeneration group, INRA Fish Physiology and Genomics Lab in Rennes
  • 2016: Tenured Research Director, Leader of the Sexual Maturation, Cryopreservation and Regeneration (MaRé) group, Deputy Director of the Fish Physiology and Genomics lab.
  • Teaching
  • 1998-2007: Responsible for the teaching unit on Biology and Aquaculture within the master degree “Animal Production” (BAPSA), Rennes 1 University
  • Since 2007: Master course on Cryobiology, Cryopreservation and the regeneration technologies, Rennes 1 University
  • Since 2013: Training School teaching to PhD students within the EU COST AQUAGAMETE project


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See also

Research group "Sexual Maturation, Cryoconservation and Regeneration" and Research