Genetics of wild and farmed organisms

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4



Applied genetics and animal welfare in production
Galway Mayo Institute of Technology


Understanding genetic diversity and differentiation in the wild is the first step in the development of sustainable modern breeding programmes, which in turn use molecular approaches in order to select for traits of interest in plant and animal production. This course provides an overview of genetic approaches applied to the study of wild and farmed organisms.


Introduction to genetic markers and measurement of genetic variation. What is genetic variation and how it is measured. Overview of genetic markers (e.g. enzymes, RFLP, RAPD, AFLP, Microsatellites, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, DNA sequence data). New technologies and the uprising of genomic approaches (Next Generation Sequencing technology). Introduction to bioinformatics. Genetic diversity and population genetic structure in wild stocks. Application of genetic data to management of species of economic and ecologic importance. Genetics variation in early-phase breeding programmes. Domestication of new aquaculture species. Broodstock selection and management. Genetic bottlenecking and inbreeding. Hybrid vigour. Genetics in animal and plant production (finfish, shellfish and algae). Genotype-Environment interactions. Quantitative genetics in modern selective breeding programmes: selection for desirable traits (fast growth, late maturation or sterility, disease resistance). Gene expression. Tools in modern breeding programmes: inbreeding, hybridization, polyploidy, sex manipulation, gene transfer, GMOs, gynogenesis, androgenesis and cloning, linkage mapping and marker assisted selection. Case studies.
The above concepts will be covered in the theoretical component of the course by means of lectures and interactive classes. The practical part of this course will include a series of in-class practical and computer work (genotyping and analyzing genetic data) and interactions with researchers from the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre (MFRC) in order to get acquainted with up-to-date infrastructure and research facilities.


Bachelor level in science. Basic knowledge of genetics is recommended.


To learn about the range of genetic approaches available to the study of wild and farmed organisms and their application in unravelling genetic diversity and differentiation in wild stocks as well as monitoring and improving productivity in farmed stocks.


On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of genetic variation, to understand the use of molecular markers in characterizing wild stocks and to understand the use of molecular markers in aiding modern breeding programmes of aquatic organisms.

Key skills acquired

To identify the need for characterizing genetic diversity both in the wild and in farming conditions.
To select the appropriate tools for addressing different research questions in wild stock assessment and in selective breeding programmes.
To learn how to interpret DNA sequence data as well as microsatellite data in population genetics and pedigree reconstruction scenarios.
To critically interpret results from a range of case studies.


Beaumont A.R., Boudry P. and Hoare K. (2010) Biotechnology and genetics in fisheries and aquaculture. – 2nd ed. ISBN 978-1-4051-8857-9
Dunham Rex A. (2004) Aquaculture and fisheries biotechnology: genetic approaches. ISBN 0-85199-596-9
Hartl D.L. and Clark A.G. (2007) Principles of Population Genetics, 4th edition. Sinauer and Associates, Sunderland, MA, 2007. ISBN-10: 0-87893-308-5. Pp. 652
Lynch M. and Walsh B. (1998) Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 1998. Pp. 980.


All assessments are formative and summative, hence contributing to the course grade. This course is 100% continuous assessment.

Involved teachers

Luca Mirimin (

Contact hours