Genetics and Evolution
Full course description
Within the life sciences there are two kinds of theories that deal with phenomena: proximate-causal theories and ultimate causal theories. Molecular genetics is indispensable for understanding the proximate causation of phenomena. It explains how genetics information, encoded in the DNA, is
transcribed and translated into molecules that are involved in the development of characteristics (phenotypes) of an individual. Evolutionary theory tries to solve problems related to the ultimate causation of phenomena. Why have specific genotypes been selected through selection on phenotypes? Its core discipline is evolutionary genetics. Genetics and evolutionary theory will be discussed in this course.
The course starts with the mechanisms that cause evolutionary change: natural selection, inheritance, and gene expression. In order to make these mechanisms understandable for students, this course will deal with the essentials of molecular, Mendel, and population genetics. It then moves
on to the evolution of life cycles, sex, and sexual selection. After discussing kin selection it uses genomic imprinting to explain genetic conflicts. Game theory will be used to explain the models that treat conflicts. The course will finish with the evolution of life histories, especially senescence.
Besides theoretical and mathematical models, the course will treat the applications of these models within the fields of biology, medicine, and psychology. For example sexual selection will be used to explain the principles of partner selection in human beings (psychology), kin selection will be treated in the context of conflicts between paternal and maternal alleles during pregnancies (medicine), and the evolution of sex will be treated in relation to rates of mutation and recombination (biology).
- To acquaint students with genetics and evolutionary theory.
- To provide students with insight into the essentials of genetic and evolutionary models and their applications in biology, medicine and psychology.
This course is designed to be taken in combination with SKI2088 Lab Skills: Genetics. Students wishing to take the Lab Skills should concurrently enroll in, or have completed, this course. Students wishing to take SCI2022 Genetics and Evolution I without taking the Lab Skills may do so.
SCI1009 Introduction to Biology. Students with substantial high school experience in Biology (For an indication of the relevant topics, see SCI-B, p. vi-viii) can contact the coordinator to request a waiver.
Stearns, S.C. & Hoekstra, R.F. (2005) Evolution; An introduction (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Alberts, D. & Johnson, A. (2007) Molecular Biology of the cell, fourth, fifth or sixth edition.