This course focuses on the genetic bases of evolutionary processes and the applications of genetics in evolutionary studies. Topics include reviews of transmission (Mendelian) genetics, DNA replication, transcription, and translation; the origin of meiosis and sexual reproduction; the microevolutionary processes of mutation, selection, genetic drift, and gene flow; the genetics of speciation; the origins of new genes; gene regulation and macroevolution; epigenetics and evolution; evolutionary genomics; and applications of evolutionary genetics to pressing societal concerns such as antibiotic, herbicide, and pesticide resistance; conservation biology; GMOs; and climate change. Laboratories include computer simulations and bench work utilizing a variety of currently employed genetic techniques. This course is especially appropriate for Biology majors focusing on ecology and evolution, Environmental Studies majors doing biology concentrations, and Neuroscience majors focusing on behavioral ecology and evolution. It provides good background for these advanced Biology courses: 340 Experimental Animal Behavior, 352 Conservation Biology, 353 Bioinformatics, 355 Ecology & Evolution of Sexual Reproduction, 375 Sensory Ecology, 382 Animal Communication, 383 Hormones & Behavior, and 387 Symbiotic Interactions.
This course covers the central pathways of molecular biology, focusing on the storage and expression of genetic information and how our understanding of these mechanisms has evolved from the birth of molecular biology as a discipline to the modern day. In particular, we will focus on how the role of RNA has grown from that of simple information vessel to the central and multivalent molecule it is known as today. We will also cover the explosion of experimental approaches — including, but not limited to high-resolution structural methods, single-molecule techniques, and next-generation sequencing technologies — that have enabled this expansive growth.
- Instructor: Colin Aitken