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 the Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals, Molecular Biology, and Biology of Development. It is necessary that the students know the English language to read the lectures’ slides, to understand scientific publications provided by the professor, and the 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, D and E, one on each of the parts B and C. The question on the laboratory classes aim to ascertain the full knowledge of what was shown during the lab practices.
The score of the exam will be in thirtieths 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 exam a minimum score of 18/30 is required.

Voto Finale

This course aims to provide students with knowledge of the multiple applications of biotechnology in the field of livestock production and in the generation of genetically modified animals to be used for diagnostic, therapeutic and environmental protection purposes.
After having completed the programm and passed the exam, we expect the student to have knowledge of the main traditional and modern biotechnologies that are used in the field of livestock production to improve product quality, and to produce genetically engineered animals for medical, pharmacological and environmental protection uses. Students will gain in-depth knowledge on the production and the quality of foods of animal origin and their processed derivatives. Students will have knowledge of the hormonal protocols for reproductive cycle manipulation, and programmed animal insemination; will know techniques of artificial insemination and storage of gametes, with particular reference to those used in livestock farming. To increase knowledge of the English language and to optimize the use of communication skills, 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.

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 of biotechnological applications in various fields of domestic animal production.

LECTURES (5 CFU, 40 hours) will treat the following topics:
A) General information on traditional and modern biotechnologies and their applications in the livestock production.
B) Application of biotechnologies in livestock production.
- domestic animals reproduction; hormonal regulation of reproduction; reproductive cycles; methods for improving animals reproductive performance.
- Artificial reproduction technologies: evaluation of the sperm; artificial insemination; induction of ovulation, production and transfer of embryos; cryopreservation and micromanipulation of gametes and embryos: in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer.
-Pregnancy, delivery and lactation in cattle, sheep and goats. Milk and milk derivatives: general principles and technology of curdling.
D) Genetic engineering of farmed animals.
- Production and use of transgenic animals for the study and cure of human disorders and for environmen protection.
• Swine models: 1. Enviropig to minimize the environmental impact of livestock production. 2. Pigs GTKO to avoid the risk of rejection in xenotransplants. 3. Pigs hSOD1_G93A to study the Lateral Amyotrophic Sclerosis (ALS)
• Cattle models: 1. Cattle with natural mutations of the gene MSTN and the hereditary syndrome of the double muscling. 2. Staphylococcal mastitis resistant cows. 2. Transgenic cows as a bio-technological 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 study of ALS.

D) Natural animal models to gain insights into the treatment of various human clinical disorders.
• Animals that possess a set of biochemical/physiological characteristics which are natural and adaptive for that animal, but are quite abnormal for humans. The case of diabetes mellitus, hypoxia/ischemia, and atherosclerotic vascular disease. Take advantage of all the “research” that nature has already performed in biological problem solving through animal design testing and selection.

E) Biotechnologies in aquaculture production.
• Use of gene knock out technique to increase fish growth: the positive aspects of transgenic fish production and mitigation of environmental risks.

The laboratory practices will include:
1.Dissection of a fish (farmed sea bass) already slaughtered for tissue/organ recognition. Removal of various organs and tissues to be used for subsequent analysis (0, 25 credits, 4 hours).
2.Total RNA extraction from the sampled fish tissues by using automatic systems for both, tissue homogenization and nucleic acid extraction. Assesment of the integrity of the RNA extracted through the use of microfluidic capillary electrophoresis. Reverse transcription of RNA to cDNA and PCR amplification of the obtained cDNA product (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
3. Gonadal morphology (macro and microscopic level) of bovine (ovaries and testicles); male and female gametes. Protocols of maturation, fertilization and in vitro culture of animal gametes (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
4.Techniques of criopreservation of male and female animal gametes (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 images to improve comprehension will be used extensively in during lectures. Educational videos will also be used to help students to enhance understanding, attain additional information, and acquire new knowledge quickly and easily.
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.
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.

To avoid long wait times, it is necessary to arrange an appointment by email (from the domain @ E-mail:
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