BIOL-360 Molecular Evolution
Fall for 2016-2017
Genetics teaches us that an organism’s DNA serves as a recipe book: its sequence provides instruction for building and developing the body. For the student of molecular evolution, an organism’s DNA serves more like a diary: there in its sequence lies the history of past evolutionary change. This course takes the latter view of DNA and will teach you how to read such a diary. Our two main foci will be molecular phylogenetics—i.e., how we may reveal the ancestry of a set of organisms—and the inference of evolutionary processes—i.e., how we detect selection, drift, mutation, and demographic changes in a population’s past. Knowledge of genetics and familiarity with evolutionary biology are prerequisites, but to get the most out of the class, it is also necessary to have a handle on simple math (arithmetic, algebra, statistical reasoning). Students will learn the basics of molecular evolution through a combination of lectures, discussion of the primary literature, and analyses of real data.
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