BSc Biochemistry / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Evolution of Genes, Genomes & Systems (E)

Unit code BIOL31391
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

You will learn about the evolutionary process in genes and genomes, and how changes in DNA alter the structure and coding capacities of genes and genomes and hence enable populations and species to evolve. Topics will include: how the evolution of developmental processes has resulted in changes in the expression and function of highly conserved genes that control animal development, and how evolution of the genome is linked to the evolution of proteins, protein interactions, function and disease.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology BIOL21232 Pre-Requisite Recommended

Aims

To convey how comparisons between genetic sequence data can be used to study the evolution of genomes, organisms and species. To explain how changes in DNA, proteins and their interactions contribute to evolutionary change. Using examples from single genes, genomes, viruses, microbes, plants and animals, demonstrate how studying evolution can help us understand complex biological systems.

Learning outcomes

Understanding of: Evolutionary process in genes and genomes. How changes in DNA alter the structure and coding capacities of genes and genomes and hence enable populations and species to evolve. How the evolution of developmental processes has resulted in changes in the expression and function of highly conserved genes that control animal development. How evolution of the genome is linked to the evolution of proteins, protein interactions, function and disease.

Syllabus

 

  • Introduction to molecular and genome evolution.
  • Molecular evolution - the neutral theory of molecular evolution; detecting adaptive evolution; the evolutionary history of life.
  • Genome evolution - the evolution of genome structure and complexity; the central role of gene duplication in genome evolution.
  • Protein evolution - evolution of proteins and function; functional constraints and specificity of protein interactions; the evolution of complexity.
  • Evo-devo - the evolution of developmental genes: insights from the Hox genes and the common ancestor of bilateral animals; linking genome evolution and gene regulation to the evolution of organisms and species.
  • Evolutionary systems biology - the evolution of protein interaction networks; redundancy and robustness; linking molecular evolution, genome variation and disease.

Employability skills

Oral communication
Five lecture slots are set aside for student presentations of topics in molecular evolution from the primary research literature.
Research
Much of the unit is based around the primary research literature.
Written communication
Students are required to write two essay questions in the exam.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 95%
Written assignment (inc essay) 5%

2 hour examination: 2 essay questions out of 5 (95% of marks).

Course work: presentation based on primary literature (5% of marks).

Feedback methods

Individual feedback on student presentations and the exam, and discussion session with all lecturers present. Students can also submit practice essays (from past papers) for assessment prior to the exam and receive feedback on these.

Recommended reading

Dan Graur and Wen-Hsiung Li, Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Gerrard Unit coordinator

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