74877 - Animal Genetic Improvement

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Animal Production (cod. 8882)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has the background and the extertise to genetically evaluate and rank animals in the main livestock species.

Course contents

First, students should have basic knowledge in biology, statistics, formal genetics, population genetics and molecular genetics. Students should also know the structure of the DNA and understand how the genetic information can be transmitted to the next generations.


1) Introduction to the animal production sectors.

2) Selection goals in livestock: general concepts.

3) Legislative support in animal breeding and reproduction.

4) Basic elements of population genetics, quantitative genetics, statistics that can be applied in animal breeding and selection.

5) Phenotype and genotype. Heritability of production traitsvi.

6) Parentage and inbreeding. The herd book.

7) Genetic index and animal ranking. Elements of estimation of genetic indexes. Accuracy. Use of correlated traits. Multiple trait, Animal Model and Test Day Model.

8) Selection theory: aims, response to the selection, selection intensity, generation interval.

9) Performance test, progeny test, sib test, combined test

10) Crossbreeding  and heterosis.

11) Use of genetic markers in animal breeding.

12)Genomic selection.


Slides of the lectures, technical articles.

Genetica animale. Giulio Pagnacco (terza edizione, 2020), Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

Teaching methods

Lectures. Exercise sessions. Autoevaluation material.

Assessment methods

The exam will be based on an oral interview. The final score will be scaled on a total of a maximum of 30 points, with the possibility to assign a mention "with laude" if the student's performance during the interview will be particularly excellent.

The exam commission will be constituted by Prof. Luca Fontanesi and other scientists of the AGR17 scientific sector.

The interview will be based on the main topics of the course:

three questions (one on the main and general aspects; two of specific aspects).

The final score will be derived from the weighted mean of the score of the three questions (first question weight 50%, second and third questions weight 25%).

Scores ranging 30-30 cum laude (30L): the student demonstrates very high expertise, relevant skills in the interpretation and critical analyses of the content of the course.

Scores ranging 27-29: the student demonstrates to have aquired a very good background, very good critical skills and technical terms.

Scores ranging 23-26: the student demonstrates a good to almost good background and technical expertise.

Scores ranging 18-22: the student demonstrates sufficient background and technicalexpertise.

Exam sessions will be planned in advance and will be available on the common platforms. The students have to register to the exam session using the AlmaEsami web platform.

Students will be have the interview in English or any other elements that might affect the interview should be communicated in advance to the Professor.

Teaching tools

Slides of the lectures. Exercises.

Office hours

See the website of Luca Fontanesi


Zero hunger Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.