Evolutionary Genetics


Course Objective

Course objectives:
At the end of the course, the student
• is able to describe and explain the dynamic nature of genomes and the
underlying molecular mechanisms in relation to molecular evolution
• can describe the regular mechanisms of transcriptional and
post-transcriptional gene regulation and how genetic variation can
affect these processes in relation to new traits and adaptation
• can describe how natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, and
migration influence the genetic structure of populations and speciation
• is able to explain the basic concepts of population genetics and apply
those mathematically
• can interpret and determine phylogenetic relationships and is able to
use computer programs for the construction of phylogenetic trees
• is able to describe current hypotheses of 'the origin of life' and to
discuss the evidence

Course Content

To achieve the course objectives, the following topics will be
• Causes and mechanisms of genetic variation at nucleotide, gene, and
chromosomal level
• Genome evolution in pro- and eukaryotes
• Horizontal DNA transfer
• Evolutionary consequences of genome evolution and sex
• Causes of Speciation
• Molecular evolution of viral and bacterial pathogens
• Origin of life models
• The use of bioinformatics and comparative genomics
• Population genetics: allele frequencies in relation to selection and
genetic drift
• Use of genetic variation to examine stochastic and deterministic
• Application of simple mathematical rules to examine the behavior of
alleles of one and two loci in ideal populations, and for genes with a
quantitative effect.
• Reconstruction of phylogenetic trees using DNA sequences and cladistic
computer programs
• Phylogeography
• Evolution - Development (Evo-Devo)

Teaching Methods

• Lectures and literature discussions by students (ca 50 hr)
• Working groups (ca 8 hr, mandatory)
• Literature presentation (ca 10 hr, mandatory)
• Computer practical (ca 12 hr, mandatory)
• Weblectures on specific topics
• Self study (ca 85 hr)

Method of Assessment

- Written exam; 80% of final grade
- Literature presentation on Evolution-related subject; 20% of final

To pass, grades for both assessments should be ≥ 5,5

Entry Requirements

Genetics, Molecular genetics, and Developmental Biology are subjects the
student should be familiar with.


• Book: 'Evolutionary Analysis', Scott Freeman and Jon C. Herron, Fifth
Edition, 2015, Pearson, Prentice Hall
• Research and overview articles of subjects that are not thoroughly
discussed in the book. These will be provided via the Canvas site of
the course.

Target Audience

Students of the Minor ‘Evolutionary Biology and Ecology’, and other
third-year BSc students Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Bioinformatics and
Systems Biology, Health and Life Sciences

Additional Information

This minor course requires a minimum of 20 participants to take place.

Custom Course Registration

Enrollment through studentportal:Vunet.vu.nl

Recommended background knowledge

Basic genetics and molecular biology

General Information

Course Code AB_1022
Credits 6 EC
Period P3
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. J.M. Kooter
Examiner dr. J.M. Kooter
Teaching Staff dr. J.M. Kooter
dr. ir. T.F.M. Roelofs

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture, Computer lab