Design of Genetic Improvement Programs

Name of course:
Design of Genetic Improvement Programs

ECTS credits:

Course parameters:
Language: English
Level of course: PhD course
Time of year: Summer 2017
No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 40/90
Capacity limits: 15 PhD students

Objectives of the course:
The course is aimed at tackling problems from practical modern genetic improvement of agricultural livestock and crops. Through the course you acquire theoretical insight in designing genetic improvement programs in general and experience in some practical examples. You will be able to design genetic improvement programs for simple situations. Recently developed methods, including the use of genomic data, are considered and their role in designing genetic improvement programs is evaluated.

Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Compare realistic genetic improvement programs for important species of agricultural livestock.
  • Compare realistic genetic improvement programs for important species of agricultural crops.
  • Explain effects of changes in genetic improvement programs, including the use of reproductive technologies, selection strategies, mating strategies, and population size.
  • Compare methods for the incorporation of DNA marker information and information about single genes with effects on quantitative traits on breeding decisions.
  • Summarize the consequences of the use of DNA information in genetic improvement programs and compare these with the effects of conventional breeding.

Compulsory programme:
The participants will get several papers to read before the course week, and they will prepare a presentation of a selected topic.

Course contents:
Important topics in designing genetic improvement programs are to compare genetic progress with the increase in inbreeding, and to explain and compare risks and consequences of different genetic improvement programs using simulation tools. Topics to be covered in the course include modeling and simulation using deterministic and stochastic methods, use of molecular information, reproductive technologies, selection strategies and mating strategies.

Prerequisite corresponding to the course Quantitative Genetics or equivalent.

Name of lecturers:
Anders Christian Sørensen (AU) and Theo Meuwissen (NMBU)

Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures, theoretical exercises and assignments, and computer exercises. The lectures are based on short introductions to the subjects and subsequent discussions partly based on reading of scientific papers. The students are required to contribute actively to this discussion.

To be announced

Course homepage:

Course assessment:
The PhD students will present a given topic for the fellow students during the course.

Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University

Special comments on this course:
This course is a NOVA PhD course, and NOVA students have first priority. Lectures will be given jointly with the MSc intensive course with the same course title.

19.-23. June 2017

Asmildkloster Landbrugsskole, Viborg. Accommodation can be provided.

Deadline for registration is April 15. See the course webpage for instruction on how to register.

If you have any practical questions, please contact Elise Norberg ( For questions related to the course content or scientific level, please contact Anders Christian Sørensen (