Biotechnology of animal production

Degree course: 
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Supplementary compulsory subjects
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (40 hours), Laboratory (16 hours)

Basic knowledge of Domestic Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Developmental Biology. It is necessary that the students know the English language to read the lectures’ slides, to understand scientific publications provided by the professor and scientific videos shown during the teaching course.

Final Examination: 

Learning is verified through a thorough oral exam, which aims to ascertain the acquisition by students of knowledge and skills expected. The final oral exam consists of four questions, three questions on the theory classes and one on the laboratory classes. Each of the three theoretical questions will cover a chapter chosen among those exposed during lectures: one on the parts A and C, one on each of the parts B and D. The question on the laboratory classes aim to ascertain the full knowledge of what was experimented during the lab practices.
The score of the exam will be in thirties and will take account of the accuracy and quality of the responses (70%), communicative skills shown during the oral test (10%) and the ability to adequately justify statements, and opinions (20%). To pass the examination a minimum of 18/30 is required.

Voto Finale

This course aims to provide students with knowledge on the multiple applications of biotechnology in the field of livestock production and on the generation of genetically modified animals for diagnostic, therapeutic and environmental protection uses.

After completing the course and passing the exam, the student is expected to have knowledge of the main traditional and modern biotechnologies that are used in the field of livestock production to improve product quality, extract bioactive compounds, and to produce genetically engineered animals for medical, pharmacological and environmental protection uses. Students will gain in-depth knowledge about the production and quality of food of animal origin and their processed derivatives. Students will know and will be able to plan hormonal protocols for manipulation of the reproductive cycle and programmed animal insemination; will know techniques of artificial insemination, storage of gametes and embryos, procedures of assisted reproduction in domestic animals, with particular reference to those used in livestock farming. With the aim of increasing knowledge on the English language and optimizing the use of communication skills already gained, students will be guided through the study of scientific literature in English. The teaching course makes also use of field trips to take vision of productive and scientific sectors and to put students in touch with experts of these sectors.
Knowledge and understanding (Knowledge and know)
The kinds of skills and knowledge that students are expected to acquire and retain are:
- basic knowledge on the use of biotechnologies for the improvement of livestock production and for the optimization of animal reproduction;
- basic knowledge on the principal techniques used for the manipulation of animal gametes and embryos and for the production of transgenic animals;
- information on the use of reproductive biotechnologies in modern animal breeding;
- knowledge on the bio molecular techniques used for the improvement of livestock production;
- information on the most innovative applications of biotechnology including the use of model animals for the study of human diseases, production of bioactive molecules, and for the xenotransplantation.

Applying knowledge and understanding (Skills and know how)
It is expected that students will be able to:
- apply the acquired knowledge for resolving scientific issues related to animal biotechnology;
- understand and discuss critically the results of scientific studies in the field of animal biotechnology;
- apply biotechnologies in the modern farming to increase production, and improve animal health;
- know the criteria and limits of the use of animal biotechnologies and apply them in different contexts;
- apply and develop new biotechnological approaches for innovative animal products;
- communicate in a clear and comprehensible way the basics of the animal biotechnology;
- extract and summarize relevant information and to communicate it effectively and with adeguate terminology both orally and in writing form, and to disseminate information;
- communicate the results of biotechnological studies by explaining the importance and highlighting the impact of modern biotechnological applications;
- understand and review a scientific paper on animal biotechnology;
- understand methods described on scientific protocols, manuals, and scientific publications;
- update the acquired skills by continuously following the progress of biotechnology science.

The course provides a propaedeutic part followed by a specialist one. The introductory part includes briefs on the morpho-physiological traits of the farmed domestic animals, with particular reference to the physiology and endocrinology of reproduction. The specialist part provide knowledge on biotechnological applications in various fields of domestic animal production.

LECTURES (5 CFU, 40 hours) will treat the following topics:
A) General information on biotechnologies and their applications in the animal sector.
B) Application of biotechnologies in livestock production.
- domestic animals reproduction; hormonal regulation of reproduction; reproductive cycles; methods for improving animals reproductive performance.
- Assisted reproductive technologies: evaluation of the sperm; artificial insemination; induction of ovulation, production and transfer of embryos; conservation, cryopreservation and micromanipula-tion of gametes and embryos: in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer.
- Pregnancy, giving birth and lactation in cattle, sheep and goats. Milk and milk derivatives: general principles and technology of cheese making.
C) Biotechnologies in aquaculture production.
- Morphology and physiology of Osteichthyes with examples of the most commonly farmed species;
- Fish endocrinology and control of fish reproduction;
- Use of gene knock out technique to increase fish growth: the positive aspects of transgenic fish production and mitigation of environmental risks.
D) Genetic engineering of farmed animals.
- Production and use of transgenic animals for diagnostic, therapeutic and environmental benefits.
• Swine models: 1. Enviropig to minimize the environmental impact of livestock production. 2. transgenic pigs to avoid the risk of rejection in xenotransplantations.
• Cattle models: 1. Staphylococcal mastitis resistant cows. 2. Transgenic cows as a biotechnologi-cal solution to overcome the problems of allergy from β-lactoglobulin.
• Teleost models: 1. Production of transparent zebrafish to study tumors: 2. Production of transgenic fish for the myostatin gene.
• Transgenic animals as bioreactors for biologically active compounds extraction.

The laboratory practices will include:
1. Dissection of a fish (farmed sea bass) already slaughtered for tissue/organ recognition practice and removal of various organs and tissues to be used for subsequent analysis (0, 25 credits, 4 hours).
2. Total RNA extraction from one of the sampled fish tissues by using automatic systems for both, homogenization of the sample and nucleic acid extraction. Integrity assessment of the RNA extracted through the use of microfluidic capillary electrophoresis (Experion, BioRad). Reverse transcription and PCR amplification of the obtained cDNA product (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
3. One Step Taqman real time PCR quantification of the mRNA copies of a target gene and analysis of the obtained data (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
4. Extraction of genomic DNA from saliva and fingerprinting analysis (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).

The program of the course includes a filed trip to a laboratory of advanced animal reproduction technologies, involved in biotechnological research, and in the production of transgenic animals.

- Learning material updated by the professor, available in electronic form on the E-learning platform.
- Books:
- Domestic Animal Reproduction. Authors: B. Hafez and E. S. E. Hafez. Published by
- Anatomy and physiology of domestic animals. Authors: Bortolami R, Callegari E, Beghelli V. Published by: Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole.
- Animal Biotechnology, National Research Council of The National Academy press, Washing-ton, 2002.
- Brown Terry A. Molecular Biotechnology. Published by Zanichelli.

The course consists of lectures (5 CFU), laboratories (1 CFU), and field trips.
PowerPoint presentations that use pictures to reinforce content will be used extensively in classrooms during lectures. Instructional video will also be used to help students to retain more information, and understand concepts more rapidly.
Laboratory classes are designed to create an environment where students are physically engaged through active experimentation. Laboratory classes will be held at the Biology lab on level -1 of the building situated in Via Dunant, 3. During the laboratory classes, continuous assistance is assured in the classroom by the professor and one or more assistants. Students must wear lab coats during laboratory classes. Students are reminded that attendance of the labs is mandatory and absence is permitted only for a number of hours not exceeding 25% of the total hours of the lab program.
Students who exhibit allergies or intolerances to reagents or other molecules that may be present in the laboratory must absolutely inform the professor before the start of the laboratory module.