About this course
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. The course deals with the dynamics of genetic variation, by evaluating the effect of and the equilibrium between mutation, natural selection, genetic drift and migration. Furthermore, it deals with the translation of genotypic variation to phenotypic variation in interaction with environmental variation. Understanding the dynamics of genetic variation, and its translation to a phenotype, is not only important for understanding past and predicting future evolutionary change, but also for its relationship to biodiversity. Furthermore, population and quantitative genetic insights are essential for plant and animal breeders to exploit genetic variation.
Topics covered in this course are genetic variation and the evolution of gene frequency; multi-locus genetics and linkage disequilibrium; the effects of mutation, selection, drift, migration and inbreeding in relation to population structure; polygenic inheritance, heritability and the evolution of quantitative traits; genotype by environment interaction and environmental sensitivity; conservation genetics and the genetic management of small populations; using DNA sequence data to population processes, such as selective sweeps, genetic bottlenecks, genetic differentiation and divergence dates; and the interpretation of results from genetic analyses of populations.
After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- define and describe important population and quantitative genetic concepts such as: genetic drift, natural selection, selective sweep, inbreeding, heritability and quantitative traits;
- apply these population and quantitative genetic concepts to problems related to the genetic dynamics of natural, captive and artificially selected populations;
- apply population and quantitative genetic concepts to problems related to the erosion of genetic diversity and methods for genetic conservation of populations;
- infer consequences of population history for the current genetic characteristics of populations, and vice versa, to infer population history from current data.
GEN11806 Fundamentals of Genetics (or equivalent course on the basics of genetics)