Biotechnology of animal production

Degree course: 
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
Academyc year when helding the course: 
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 the students of expected knowledge and skills. 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 key practices shown during the lab.
The score of the exam will be in thirties and will take account of the accuracy and quality of the responses, communicative skills shown during the oral test and the ability to adequately justify statements, and opinions. To pass the exam a minimum of 18/30 is required.

Voto Finale

This course aims to provide students with knowledge on the several 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 purposes.
After completing the course and passing the exam, 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, and bioactive compounds extraction by introducing, with the techniques of genetic engineering, genes that encode proteins of pharmacological interest in the DNA of farmed animals. Students will gain in-depth knowledge on the production and quality of food of animal origin and their derivatives. Students will know hormonal protocols for manipulation of the reproductive cycle and programmed animal insemination.
With the aim to increase knowledge on the English language and to improve the communication skills, students will be engaged in 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.
Knowledge and understanding skills
- Acquisition of specialised knowledge on bio-molecular techniques used to improve animal production;
- Knowledge on the most innovative biotechnological applications involving the use of animal models for the study of human diseases, and on pharming for the production of bioactive molecules.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
- Ability to apply the acquired knowledge to solve scientific problems related to animal biotechnology;
- Ability to critically interpret the scientific results of literature;
- Ability to apply biotechnologies in the main fields of animals’ use, such as livestock farming, livestock production, food of animal origin, and animal testing;
- Knowing the criteria and limits for the use of animal biotechnology and then assessing its applicability in different contexts;
- Know how to apply and develop biotechnological approaches to the development of innovative animal products;

Autonomy of the judgment
- Ability to understand and discuss critically the results of scientific studies in the field of animal biotechnology;
- Ability to integrate information from different sources and to link it with existing knowledge;
- Ability to integrate knowledge acquired for the formulation of judgements that include social and ethical responsibilities related to the application of biotechnological methodologies in the animal field.

Ability to communicate with others
- Demonstrate the ability to communicate in a clear and understandable way
- Demonstrate the ability to extract and synthesise relevant information, to communicate effectively and with the correct terminology both orally and in writing and to summarise and disseminate information;
- Demonstrate the ability to display the results of biotechnological studies being able to sustain the importance and highlight the possible consequences.

Capacity of learning
- Ability to understand and comment on a scientific text on animal biotechnologies, to learn methodologies written on manuals and scientific publications;
- Ability to update acquired skills by following scientific and technological advances.

The course provides a propaedeutic and a specialist part. 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) Genetic engineering of farmed animals.

- Production and use of transgenic animals for diagnostic, therapeutic and environmental benefits.

• The swine model: 1. Enviropig to minimize the environmental impact of livestock produc-tion. 2. Pigs GTKO to avoid the risk of rejection in xenotransplantation. 3. Pig as model for the study of Lateral Amyotrophic Sclerosis (ALS)
• The cattle model: 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 biotechnological solution to overcome the problems of allergy from milk proteins.
• The teleost model: 1. Production of transgenic zebrafish to study tumors: 2. Production of transgenic fish for the study of ALS.

- Use of the animal mammary gland as a bioreactor for drug production.

• Pharming of cattle for therapeutic milk production for human consumption.
• Pharming of sheep and goats for the extraction and purification of therapeutic antimicrobial proteins from milk.

- Biotechnological applications for the production of recombinant spider silk proteins in the milk of transgenic goats and use of these proteins in medicine.

C) 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. Extraction of bacterial DNA for the gut microbiota analysis in reared fish (0.25 credits, 4 hours).
2. Total RNA extraction from an animal tissue; assessment of extracted RNA integrity and quantity. Real time PCR quantification of the transcripts of a target gene and analysis of the obtained data (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
3. Fingerprint analysis, part 1: extraction of genomic DNA; quantification and purity assessment of the extracted DNA (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).
4. Fingerprinting analysis: amplification of the microsatellite DNA regions via PCR; data acquisition and elaboration (0.25 CFU, 4 hours).

The program of the course includes a field trip to a center of international excellence of biotecnnologies applied to the food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.

- Learning material updated by the professor, available in electronic form on the E-learning platform.
- Books:
- Animal Biotechnology, National Research Council of The National Academy press, Washington, 2002.
- Molecular Biotechnology. Author: Brown Terry A. Published by Zanichelli.
- 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.


The course consists of lectures (5 CFU), laboratories (1 CFU), and a field trip.
PowerPoint presentations that use images will be extensively used during classes, striving to show more and tell less when introducing students to new information, concepts, and skills. Scientific videos will also be used to amplify students learning and to make key information comprehensible.
Laboratory classes are designed to create an environment in which students are physically engaged through active practical work. 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.
A field trip is foreseen, using the University funds for field trips for the use of a bus with driver. At least two professors will accompany the students in the field trip.

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