95956 - High-Throughput Technologies for Sustainable Animal Breeding

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Food Animal Metabolism and Management in the Circular Economy (cod. 5814)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students know the main technologies and applications of large-scale phenotyping and genotyping to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of animal breeding programs. Students know the main phenomics and genomics platforms and their application for sustainable livestock production, and how to design breeding programs in a circular economy perspective.

Course contents

Introduction: The domestication of livestock species, topics associated to animal production. Genetics population and evolution forces. The student is expected to define animal production system and what are the main drivers of genetic variation.

Collection of information: Phenotypes recorded in animal breeding. Herdbook and marker information. The student is expected to know the main characteristics of a trait to be potentially included in breeding programs, and the importance of herdbook and genetic markers in a breeding perspective.

Phenomics: Definition and platforms for large-scale recording of animal traits in a breeding perspective. The student is expected to know the importance of the collection of a phenotype on a large-scale and at a cost-effective.

Genomics: Genome mapping and sequencing. The SNP-chip technology. Association studies: candidate gene approach and genome-wide association studies. The student is expected to know the main platforms for genotyping and how to quantify the association between genotype and animal characteristics.

Animal model: Definition and components of the animal model. Variance components and genetic parameter estimation: heritability, repeatability, genetic correlations. Genetic and genomic relationship matrices: A, G and H. The student is expected the sources of variation contributing to the phenotypic variability of trait and the importance of genetic parameters estimation for selective breeding.

Genomic selection: The concept of breeding value. Estimation of animal genetic and genomic breeding value. Genetic and genomic methods for breeding value estimation. Application of genomic selection. The student is expected to learn how to estimate animal genetic and genomic breeding value, including multiple steps and one step methods.

Evaluation of a breeding program: The response to selection and the genetic gain. Quantification of the genetic trend and monitoring the rate of inbreeding using genomic data in a population under genetic selection. The student is expected to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of a breeding program and to propose mating strategies to optimize the rate of genetic gain.

Practical lessons: 24 hours of the course will be dedicated to practical activities, visits, and seminars with international invited speakers. Moreover, a Student Journal Club will be organized in order to examine scientific papers related to topics studied during the course. Students will be divided into groups and each group is expected to give a presentation describing the assigned scientific paper.


The following textbooks are suggested:

Molecular and Quantitative Animal Genetics. H. Khatib, Ed. Wiley, 2014

Genomes 4. T.A. Brown, Ed. Garland Science, 2017

Linear Models for the Prediction of Animal Breeding Values. R.A. Mrode, Ed. Cabi, 2014


The material presented during the lectures, including PowerPoint Presentations and scientific papers, will be available in VITUALE website (https://virtuale.unibo.it/); password for accessing the material is available upon request and at the beginning of the lectures.

Teaching methods

The course is structured in 32 hours of frontal lectures and 24 hours of practical activities, which will include seminars with international speakers, visits, and presentation of group assignments.

In order to attend this course all students need to have completed the course on "Health and Safety Training for Study and Research" (Modules 1, 2 and 3). Module 1 and Module 2 are available online (https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas). For Module 3, which is more specific, additional information is available on the webpage of the degree course (https://corsi.unibo.it/2cycle/FoodAnimalMetabolismManagement/safety-and-health-at-work-compulsory-training-for-students).

Assessment methods

The final exam is written and is done using EOL platform (https://eol.unibo.it/ [https://eol.unibo.it/?lang=en] ), with both multiple-choice and open questions. Multiple-choice questions are 10 and each correct answer is evaluated +1 points, 0 for each wrong or missing answer. Open questions are 10 and each correct answer is evaluated +2, 0 for each wrong or missing question. Student Journal Club presentations are evaluted up to 5 bonus points on the final evaluation.

Time given to complete the exam is 90 minutes. During the exam no support, such as textbooks, notes, are allowed.

The maximum evaluation 30/30 cum laude. The exam is passed with a final evaluation of at least 18/30.

The teacher will guarantee at least 6 exam sessions per year.

Students with disabilities or special needs requiring adaptations, accommodations, and modifications to the examination should express their needs to the teacher at the beginning of the course.


Evaluation scheme:

  • 18-19: with some help from the teacher, the student can recall the main theoretical aspects.
  • 20-24: the student shows knowledge of the theoretical aspects and can autonomously analyse the scenarios presented (in class or during the written exam), generally using correct language.
  • 25-29: the student can express a reasoned judgment on the scenarios proposed, using specifies examples, making use of specific technical language.
  • 30-30L: the student can make connections between different topics, can discuss and argument his answers and critically assess the presented scenarios, properly using the terminology and the bibliographic sources. The Candidate is able to propose corrective strategies when necessary.

Teaching tools

Lectures will be given in the classroom using PowerPoint Presentations, videoprojectors and Microsoft Teams.

Office hours

See the website of Giulio Visentin


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.