Genetics and Biodiversity

Animal breeding and genetics has become an integrated, worldwide industry. In recent years, the emphasis on animal biodiversity has been growing.

Specialisation in a nutshell

The specialisation Genetics and Biodiversity focuses on the genetic improvement of animals in relation to their environment, by integrating quantitative, biological and molecular approaches. DNA techniques are emphasised because they are increasingly used to determine genetic diversity in various animal populations. Focus can be on genetic management of domestic or semi-wildlife populations to ensure optimal health and performance or on the genetic basis of specific behaviours or characteristics in various animal species.

This specialisation has three thesis tracks:

- Animal Breeding and Genetics (ABG)

- Host-Microbe Interactomics (HMI)

- Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (WEC)

Below you can read more about the courses provided in the specialisation Genetics and Biodiversity. The online study handbook provides detailed information.

Courses ABG

In consultation with your study adviser you should choose (at least) two of these advanced courses:

Genomics (ABG30306)

This course discusses the structure and function of genomes of living organisms from all kingdoms. It is a compulsory course for students who want to focus on molecular genetics.

Genetic Improvement of Livestock (ABG31306)

By lectures, discussion meetings, excursions and practicals this course will provide advanced knowledge on genetic improvement schemes in livestock and companion animals. This course is compulsory for students with special interest in quantitative genetics and/or animal breeding.

Modern Statistics for the Life Sciences (ABG30806)

In this course students will learn about a number of statistical models and associated methods for statistical inference. Applications of models and methods in quantitative genetics and epidemiology will be discussed.

Population and Quantitative Genetics (GEN30806)

This course explains genetic and molecular evolution and their relationship to phenotypic evolution, of natural, captive and domesticated populations of living organisms, ranging from microbes to plants and animals.

Courses HMI

Molecular Regulation of Health and Disease (HAP31806)

This course focuses on regulatory (molecular, biochemical and cellular) mechanisms that have a central role in human and animal health.

Optional courses:

Microbial Disease Mechanisms (HMI50306)

In this course the molecular biology of the interactions of humans, and animals with causal agents of diseases will be addressed, with a focus on bacterial pathogens.

Commensal and Pathogen Host-Microbe Interactions in the Intestine (HMI30306)

The course aims to teach students the concepts involved in research on host microbe interactions and includes a useful practical that provides background in, and basics of, applied microbiome data handling.

Courses WEC

Ecological Methods I (WEC31806)

Students learn how to analyse hypothesis-centred ecological field research projects on plants, animals, and their environment, with emphasis on the appropriate choice and application of statistical techniques for the analysis of ecological data.

Wildlife Resource Management (WEC32806)

Within a learning-by-doing context this course focuses on solving problems in the fields of wildlife management and conservation biology.

Thesis and Internship

A thesis or internship project for the specialisation Genetics and Biodiversity is conducted at the ABG, HMI or WEC chair group and results in a scientific report and a presentation. A thesis project usually links up with ongoing research at one of the research groups or is conducted in cooperation with commercial or (non-)governmental organisations. At the websites of the different chair groups, you can find more information about research topics.

ABG chair group

HMI chair group

WEC chair group


If you have any questions about the specialisation Genetics and Biodiversity, you can contact the programme director René Kwakkel at