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 three questions, two questions on the theoretical part and one on the laboratory classes. The question on the laboratory classes aims to ascertain the full knowledge of what was shown 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 numerous applications of biotechnology in the field of livestock production as well as knowledge on the generation of genetically modified animals for diagnostic, therapeutic and environmental protection uses.
After completing the course and passing the exam, the students are expected to have knowledge of the main classical and modern biotechnologies that are used in the field of livestock production for product quality improvement, bioactive compounds extraction, and genetically engineered animals’ production to be used for medical, pharmacological and environmental protection. Students will gain in-depth knowledge on the production and quality of foods 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 to increase knowledge on the English language and to improve the 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 some 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 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.
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. Pigs GTKO to avoid the risk of rejection in xenotransplantations. 3. Pigs hSOD1_G93A as models for the study of 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 valuable 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 melli-tus, hypoxia/ischemia, and atherosclerotic vascular disease. Take advantage of all the “re-search” that nature has already performed over billions of years in biological problem solving through extensive animal design testing and selection.

E) Use of biotechnologies for the production and transformation of food of animal origin
• Milk and milk derivatives: general principles and technology of curdling.
The laboratory practices will include:
1. Dissection of a laboratory animal (vertebrate) 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 an animal tissue by using automatic systems for both, homogenization of the sample and nucleic acid extraction. Extracted RNA integrity assessment through the use of microfluidic capillary electrophoresis. One Step real time PCR quantification of the transcripts of a target gene and analysis of the obtained data (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
3. Extraction of genomic DNA from the saliva of each student (cells arising from inside the mouth, collected with a cotton swab) for subsequent fingerprinting analysis; quantification and purity assessment of the extracted DNA (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
4. Fingerprinting analysis of the DNA extracted from the saliva; amplification of the microsatellite DNA regions via PCR; data acquisition and elaboration (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 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