GENE 251/ GENE351

Applied Animal and Plant Breeding



Genetic improvement plays a vital role in the development of production efficiency

in agricultural production systems. The basis of most genetic improvement programs

in animal and plant production lies in quantitative genetics. Quantitative genetics  attempts to describe

variation in quantitative traits. It forms the basis of most of the work done in animal and plant breeding,

as most of the traits of economic importance in plant and animal production systems are quantitative traits.

Genetic improvement of such traits has proven to be a very cost effective and sustainable option to achieve

improvements in production efficiency and product quality.  Current developments in reproductive technology

and molecular genetics have increased the efficiency of such breeding methods. The impact of such new

technologies can not be easily understood without knowledge of the basic theory of quantitative genetics.

This undergraduate core course provides an introduction to applied breeding and quantitative genetics.

It gives students some feel for the principles of selection and crossbreeding.

Elementary skills are developed for estimating the breeding value of animals for commercially important traits,

predicting rates of genetic improvement, and designing animal breeding programs to help efficiently achieving genetic improvement.

Application of breeding programs and breeding technologies in the animal and plant breeding industries is discussed.

Computer simulation and practical examples are used to illustrate the topics.



Unit Aim


            To introduce students to applied genetics

            To provide students with basic understanding in plant and animal breeding

            To make students aware of new technologies affecting these disciplines.


Teaching Outcome


By the end of this unit students will be able to:


1-     demonstrate an understanding of applied genetics

2-     show an understanding of applications of plant and animal breeding

3-     demonstrate awareness of new technologies affecting these disciplines

4-     communicate the socio-economic and ethical issues of new breeding technologies


Assessment of the unit:                            

Assessment items and percent marks:



   GENE 251

    GENE 351

Problem sets (5 in total)

15 %

15 %

Problem set 3, question 4

Practical report (prac #3)



5 %

Practical report (prac #5)

Project report

10 %

10 %

10 %

10 %

Mid-term exam

10 %

10 %

Final exam

50 %

50 %


A satisfactory performance in all components is required for passing the unit.


GENE351 students have some additional problem set questions, an additional practical report,

and are required to submit a more substantial project report in comparison to GENE251 students.


Problem sets:

Problem sets comprise a series of questions related to recent lectures / pracs.  Students should first answer the problem,

then complete the associated WebCT quiz.  40 minutes are allowed for each quiz.  Note that it will be difficult time-wise

to answer the WebCT quiz without first working through the questions by hand.  Five problem sets are to be completed. 

Each problem set is worth 3.0%, for a total of 15%.  GENE251 students have one additional problem set question

(problem set 3, question 4), worth a further 5% of unit marks, to be submitted as a typed report. 


Practical report:

The practical reports follow the format of a scientific paper, as described on page 12.  GENE251 students are required

to submit one report, worth 10%.  GENE351 students are required to submit two reports the first worth 5% and the

second worth 10%.  GENE351 students will receive feedback on their first report before the second report is due. 



Project topics are based on technical and socio-economical issues in relation to animal and plant breeding,

as described on page 14.  Assessment comprises a short report (250 words for GENE251 and 750 words for GENE351),

and an oral presentation of a poster which will be given in groups.   The written report is worth 8.0%

and the oral presentation 2.0%, for a total of 10%.


Mid-term exam and final exam:

The mid-term exam is worth 10% of the total marks, and will assess lectures 1-8 and 22-25. 

External students will be assessed via WebCT.  The final exam is worth 50% of the total mark and will assess the entire course content. 

Exams from previous years can be accessed on-line through the UNE library website (




Lecture attendance:

All internal students must attend at least 85% of lectures.  This equates to 30 out of the total

of 35 lectures for GENE351 students, and 27 of the 32 lectures for GENE251 students. 

Lecture attendance will be monitored.  Any student who cannot attend at least 85% of lectures

must provide a medical certificate or evidence of extenuating personal circumstances to the unit co-ordinator. 

Meat judging will not be considered a valid reason for missing lectures (this can be accommodated into the free 15%). 

Students who fail to meet the lecture attendance criteria will receive a grade of fail-incomplete. 


Practical attendance:

All internal students must attend all practicals.  Any student who cannot attend a practical must provide

a medical certificate or evidence of extenuating personal circumstances to the unit co-ordinator.  

In addition, a short report of the missed practical must be submitted to the unit co-ordinator. 

Students who fail to meet these criteria will receive a grade of fail-incomplete





This is a 6 credit point subject, equating to 150 hours per semester.  As a guide, students should thus spend

around 10 hours per week on this subject for each of the 13 weeks of semester, leaving 20 hours

preparation for the exams.  Weekly time is divided into 6 hours per week for lectures / practicals,

and 4 hours per week for revision and assignments.