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 (12 hours)

Basic knowledge of Domestic Animals Anatomy and Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Developmental Biology.

Final Examination: 

Learning is verified through an oral test, which aims to ascertain the acquisition by the students of the aforementioned expected learning outcomes. The final oral test consists of three questions: two on the theoretical part and one on the laboratory classes. The responses to the questions on the theoretical part account for 75% of the final score, whereas the response to the question on the laboratories accounts for the remaining 25%. The question on the laboratory classes aims to ascertain the full knowledge of key practices shown during the laboratories.
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

Educational aims

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.
In particular, the course aims to provide 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. The course also aims to provide in-depth knowledge on the production and quality of food of animal origin and their derivatives.
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.

Expected learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will be able to:
- describe the major bio-molecular techniques used to improve animal production;
- describe the use of mammalian animal models for the study of human diseases and biopharming (pharmaceuticals+ animal farming) for the production of bioactive molecules.
- apply the acquired knowledge to solve scientific problems related to the biotechnology of animal products;
- understand and critically discuss the results of scientific studies in the field of animal production biotechnology;
- apply biotechnologies for the improvement of animal-derived products and for
- the development of innovative products;
- evaluate the ethical impact of animal biotechnology in the fields of zoo culture and food for facilitate ethical decision making.
- extract and synthesise relevant information, communicate effectively and with the correct terminology and summarise and disseminate information;
- display the results of biotechnological studies being able to sustain the importance and highlight the possible consequences.

The course will focus on the following topics:
LESSONS (5 ECTS, 40 hours):
A) General information on biotechnologies and their applications in the animal sector and briefs on the morpho-physiological traits of the farmed animals, with particular reference to the physiology and endocrinology of reproduction.
B) Genetic engineering of farmed animals.
- Production and use of transgenic animals for diagnostic, therapeutic and environmental benefits.
1. The swine model as a source of organs and tissues for human transplants and as a study model for some human diseases and for environmental protection;
2. The cattle model as a biotechnological solution to increase meat production, to increase resistance to staphylococcal infections and to overcome milk protein allergy problems.
3. The teleost model for the study of tumors.
- Use of the animal mammary gland as a bioreactor for drug production.
1. Biopharming of cattle for therapeutic milk production for human consumption.
2. Biopharming of sheep and goats for the extraction and purification of therapeutic antimicrobial proteins from the 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 animal products.
1. Milk and its 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 ECTS, 3 hrs).
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 ECTS, 3 hrs).
3. Fingerprint analysis, part 1: extraction of genomic DNA; quantification and purity assessment of the extracted DNA (0.25 ECTS, 3 hrs).
4. Fingerprinting analysis: amplification of the microsatellite DNA regions via PCR; data acquisition and elaboration (0.25 ECTS, 3 hrs).

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

- Slides in PPT, scientific articles and videos available on E-learning platform
- Books:
1. Animal Biotechnology, NRC of The National Academy press, Washington, 2002.
2. Biotecnologie molecolari. Principi e tecniche. Authors: Brown Terry A. Zanichelli Publishing House.
3. Riproduzione negli animali domestici. Authors: B. Hafez and E. S. E. Hafez. Publishing house: Edizioni
4. Anatomia e fisiologia degli animali domestici. Authors: Bortolami R, Callegari E, Beghelli V. Publishing house: Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole.


The course will be dealt with in-class lessons (5 ECTS), laboratories (1 ECTS), 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 sessions are designed to create an environment in which students are physically engaged through active practical work. During the laboratory classes, continuous assistance is assured in the lab 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

To avoid wait times, it is necessary to arrange an appointment by email (from the domain @ for consulting with the professor. Professor receives the students after each lecture, too.