Evolutionary Genetics: Topics
Introduction to evolutionary genetics
A review of the theoretical and practical aspects of the analysis of DNA sequences to estimate rates and patterns of molecular evolution. The interpretation of phylogenetic trees, at the intra- and inter-specific levels. Detecting the effects of various different forms of natural selection on DNA sequences.
In viral evolution, major issues concern the origins of those viruses now found infecting humans and how their evolutionary processes lead to their current levels of genetic variation. Viruses are extremely diverse, in terms of their genome type (RNA or DNA), their rates and patterns of evolution, their origins and the timescale of human infection. To illustrate this, the major examples covered will be herpes viruses, AIDS viruses, influenza viruses, and human flaviviruses (dengue, hepatitis C).
Detecting the effects of selection on DNA sequences
In bacterial evolution, major issues concern the extent to which horizontal (lateral) gene transfer occurs, and whether it is useful/appropriate to consider bacteria as being divided into “species”. Lateral gene transfer has had a major impact on bacterial evolution in general, and the emergence of pathogenic bacteria in particular. Bacteria also provide striking examples of molecular adaptation: (i) co-adaptation of codon usage and tRNA abundance, and (ii) the arms race between bacteriophages and the restriction-modification enzymes of bacteria.
Evolutionary genetics of wild animal populations
This course covers the application of quantitative genetic analyses to key questions in evolutionary biology, with the aim of dissecting the processes of natural selection, microevolution within populations and the maintenance of genetic diversity. Topics covered in the course are as follows:
The response to selection in natural populations
- Univariate measurement of natural selection for quantitative traits
- Nonlinear and multivariate selection
- Sexual selection
- Heritability, genetic correlations and multivariate phenotypic selection
Genomic approaches to studying microevolution
Social evolution: multi-level selection and indirect genetic effects
Senescence and ageing
Inbreeding and inbreeding depression
Phenotypic plasticity, reaction norms, and genotype-by-environment interactions
Evolutionary Genetics Overview