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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Plant Science

Postgraduate Course: Phylogenetics and Population Genetics (PLSC11001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits10
Home subject areaPlant Science Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionSince the acceptance of the theory of evolution, biologists have sought to investigate the relationships of organisms, to uncover the 'tree of life', and to understand the population genetic bases of evolutionary processes.
Phylogenetics is a discipline with wide application that attempts to establish evolutionary relationships by making inferences from the inherent similarities and differences of organisms. It is generally accepted that classification should be based upon knowledge of relationships, which are also needed for testing biogeographic and evolutionary hypotheses. Increasingly, molecular data are used to reconstruct phylogenies as this provides an extensive suite of characters that can be compared across a wide range of organisms.

Population genetics focuses on examining the amounts and partitioning of genetic variation and establishing the evolutionary processes underlying population differentiation and diversification. This provides insights into how some groups of populations remain on a common evolutionary trajectory and others diversify into different ecotypes or species. Population genetic approaches also are widely used in modern conservation programmes in which the conservation of genetic biodiversity is an explicit goal.

At the interface of population genetics (diversity and differentiation within species) and phylogenetics (relationships and differentiation between species) is the nature of the species themselves. The course ends with a discussion of the definition of plant species, and how the disciplines of population genetics and phylogenetics can contribute towards enhanced understanding of the most appropriate concept(s) of what constitutes a species.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students also take Angiosperm Evolution and Biodiversity (PGBI11016) AND Angiosperm Biodiversity Practicals (PGBI11017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs none
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Class Delivery Information Class sessions will be timetabled for Monday through Friday for three weeks, Block 1 weeks 1 to 3
Course Start Date 21/04/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
1.Background to cladistic parsimony analysis (concepts of homology, character coding, homoplasy, parsimony, tree searches, confidence in resulting phylogenetic hypotheses)
2.Techniques of molecular phylogenetics (background to DNA and plant genomes, PCR and sequencing (including lab practical), DNA sequence alignment).
3.Other phylogenetic methodologies: maximum likelihood and Bayesian techniques
4.Background to population genetic analyses (measurements of diversity and partitioning of variation; characteristics of different genomes, influence of species traits on patterns of genetic diversity)
5.Molecular techniques in population genetics (sequencing, RFLPs, AFLPs, RAPDs, isozymes)
6.Use of genetic data in conservation programmes
7.The application of population genetics to GMO risk assessments
8.Adaptive differentiation, phylogeography, and speciation
9.Understanding different species concepts

Assessment Information
Two written assignments, an exercise on population genetics and a phylogenetics exercise.
Special Arrangements
The course takes the form of an intensive two week block. It is based on computer practicals, with discussion sessions also forming an integral element. The required Apple computers are the personal machines of RBGE staff who donate them to the two-week course block. Teaching in a block is therefore the only available option.

The course is also attended by University of Edinburgh PhD students, for whom a short, intensive course is most time-efficient and beneficial. The University offers no alternative course for these students.
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Keywordsphylogenetics, cladistics, population genetics, evolution, molecular phylogeny, maximum likelihoood,
Course organiserDr Louis Ronse De Craene
Tel: (0131) 248 2804
Course secretaryMiss Vicky Mactaggart
Tel: (0131 6)51 7052
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