Comparative biology, and comparative genomics in particular, allows us to look at biology through the prism of evolution and evolutionary experiments that have occurred in the past. Comparative biology allows us to study how evolutionary forces of replication, mutation and selection shape natural phenomena we observe, including those observed within human biology. Studying the link between evolution and organisms, focussing in particular on their genomes, we can state and verify hypotheses not only on the course evolution took but also on the function of organisms at the level of molecular pathway, cell, tissue, organism, and population. We can then apply the knowledge and tools of comparative biology to identify genes and regulatory regions, predict function of proteins, and understand genomic dynamics.
Doelstellingen van dit vak
Knowledge and understanding • Biological and computational insight into evolution of genes, genomes and organisms under various evolutionary selection pressures; • A biological and mathematical understanding of bio- mathematical theories in phylogenetic analysis, DNA, gene and protein evolution, gene/protein interaction networks; • Concepts of evolutionary pressure in genome evolution, convergent evolution, inheritance and homology; • Detailed biological and mathematical knowledge of various techniques to reconstruct phylogenetic trees and interaction networks from empirical data; • A biological and mathematical capacity to understand the significance of sequence evolution, phylogenetic models, their sensitivity to random changes, and their postdictive and predictive power. Applying knowledge and understanding • An understanding of how to integrate and use data and methodologies of evolutionary biology and mathematics in order to investigate systems biological questions for reconstructing and analysing sequence evolution, phylogenetic trees and networks, and to model evolutionary processes such as gene order evolution. Forming an opinion • Critical evaluation of scientific publications (hypothesis, problem definition, research approach, interpretation of results, validity of models, conclusions, limitations) with respect to the acquired knowledge of DNA evolution, phylogenetic analysis, and interaction networks. Communication • Active participation in scientific discussions; • Experience with oral presentations of arguments, hypotheses and results from scientific articles. Learning skills • Experience with Problem-Based Learning; • Reading and interpreting scientific literature on relevant topics; • Collaboration in complex task assignments.
Students will use excerpts from the following text books provided by teachers: • Molecular Biology of the cell. Bruce Alberts; • Sequence - Evolution - Function: Computational Approaches in Comparative Genomics. Koonin EV, Galperin MY; • The Phylogenetic Handbook: a practical approach to phylogenetic analysis and hypothesis testing. Edited by Philippe Lamey, Marco Salemi and Anne-Mieke Vandamme. Moreover, other articles and/or selected text books will be used as well.