Course code LauZ4083

Credit points 4

Introduction in to Population Genetics

Total Hours in Course160

Number of hours for lectures32

Number of hours for seminars and practical classes32

Independent study hours96

Date of course confirmation16.09.2014

Responsible UnitInstitute of Animal Science

Course developer

author Dzīvnieku zinātņu institūts

Daina Jonkus

Dr. agr.

Prior knowledge

LauZ5160, Animal Genetics and Breeding

Course abstract

The master students learn about frequencies of genes and genotypes in populations, the genetic structure of balanced populations and its stability under constant environmental conditions. The processes and factors influencing the genetic structure of populations and the consequences of their action. Find out about genetic processes in small populations. Learn how to determine effective population size, its relationship to inbreeding and the impact of inbreeding depression on livestock productivity traits, analyses populations of local endangered livestock breeds.

Learning outcomes and their assessment

After completing the course Master students will have:
• Knowledge about the possibilities of population development by altering its genetic structure, by increasing the frequency of desirable genes and genotypes (tests and report)
• Skills to determine the rate of inbreeding and effective population size, to understand the genetic processes in small and large populations und to use them in animal breeding (solving of practical tasks)
• Competence in studying scientific literature, performing the genetic analysis of small and large populations in Master thesis, interpreting the results, formulating the conclusions and justifying the decisions (presentation of the report, successfully written tests and passed theory exam).

Course Content(Calendar)

1. Population as a form of existence of a species. Natural and artificial populations. Livestock populations.
2. Genetic processes in panmictic populations. Genetic structure of a population (allelic and genotypic frequencies). Hardy-Weinberg equation, its use in bi-allelic system.
3. Population analysis of two allelic loci. Allelic and genotypic frequencies in X-linked loci.
4. Factors influencing changes in population genetic structure. The role of migration, mutation and genetic drift in altering the genetic structure of populations.
5. Role of selection in altering the genetic structure of populations. Effectiveness of selection against recessive and dominant alleles.
6. Factors determining the evolution: mutation load, genetic drift, gene flow and natural selection. Types of natural selection.
7. Genetic polymorphism and heterozygosity of the populations. Heterozygous advantage.
Test 1
8. Inbreeding. Calculation of inbreeding coefficient. Consequences of inbreeding in the ideal population.
9. Possibilities to minimize inbreeding. Use of pedigrees to describe real populations. Calculation of inbreeding coefficient of an individual of population.
10. Effective population size (Ne). Relationship between Ne and inbreeding.
11. Factors influencing effective population size: avoidance of inbreeding, breeding sex ratios, etc.
12. Relatedness. Coefficient of relatedness.
Test 2
13. Impact of inbreeding depression on livestock productivity traits.
14. The structure of a breed in the case of inbreeding and outbreeding. Heterosis.
15. The importance of genetic diversity. The study of livestock genetic resource populations in Latvia.
16. The role of genome selection in population development.

Requirements for awarding credit points

Attendance of lectures and practical works is mandatory.
Successfully passed Test 1 on the allelic and genotypic frequencies in populations and effect of selection on population genetic structure; Test 2 on inbreeding and effective population size.
A presentation based on scientific literature about the effect of inbreeding on the productive traits of different animal species.
Successfully passed theoretical exam.

Description of the organization and tasks of students’ independent work

Independent studies of scientific literature, problem solving, preparation to tests, preparation of a presentation on the choses topic.

Criteria for Evaluating Learning Outcomes

Test and presentation are graded on a ten-point scale.
The presentation is also evaluated by the other students in the group considering the content of the presentation, the quality of the scientific literature used, the design of presentation, presentation skills and the answers to the questions.
The final assessment of learning outcomes consists of 40% of average marks of Tests 1 and 2 (20% each), 20% of presentation average result and 40% of exam result.

Compulsory reading

1. Bourdon R.M. Understanding Animal Breeding. England: Pearson Education Limited. 2014. 518 p.
2. Falconer, D.S., Mackay, T.F.C. (1996) Introduction to Quantitative Genetics: Fourth Edition. Longman Group Ltd, London, England, 465 p.
3. Khatib H.(ed.) 2015. Molecular and Quantitative Animal Genetics. Wiley-Blackwell p. 336. ISBN 978-1-118-67740-7

Further reading

1. Misiņa M., Loža V. Ģenētika ar selekcijas pamatiem. Rīga: Zvaigzne, 1991. 397 lpp.
2. Population genetics by Knud Christensen [tiešsaiste] [skatīts10.10.2014.]. Pieejams:

Periodicals and other sources

Zinātniskie žurnāli un rakstu krājumi, kas pieejami LLU FB abonētajās datu bāzēs.


Elective course (part B) for Master’s study programme “Agriculture” specialization “Animal Husbandry”