Postgraduate Course: Phylogenetics and Population Genetics (PLSC11001)
|School||School of Biological Sciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||Since 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.
The course includes the following sessions: Introduction to phylogenetics; Taxon sampling; Introduction to morphological characters and character coding; Matrix building and sequence alignment; Introduction to molecular characters, genomes and gene regions; Introduction to parsimony; Rooting phylogenetic trees; Support and confidence measures; Advanced parsimony analysis; Introduction to likelihood and Bayesian analysis; Combining characters; Character mapping and optimisation; Species concepts. There will be sessions taken by visiting scientists.
The course includes the following sessions: Introduction to population genetic theory; Introduction to molecular biology; Molecular approaches to population genetics; GM gene flow, adaptation and phylogeography; Conservation genetics.
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2015/16, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
||Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 40,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Two written assignments, an exercise on population genetics and a phylogenetics exercise.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Background to cladistic parsimony analysis (concepts of homology, character coding, homoplasy, parsimony, tree searches, confidence in resulting phylogenetic hypotheses)
- Techniques of molecular phylogenetics (background to DNA and plant genomes, PCR and sequencing (including lab practical), DNA sequence alignment). Other phylogenetic methodologies: maximum likelihood and Bayesian techniques
- 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). Molecular techniques in population genetics (sequencing, RFLPs, AFLPs, RAPDs, isozymes)
- Use of genetic data in conservation programmes and the application of population genetics to GMO risk assessments
- Adaptive differentiation, phylogeography, and speciation, understanding different species concepts
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||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 Class Delivery Information
||Class sessions will be timetabled for Monday through Friday for three weeks, Block 1 weeks 1 to 3
|Course organiser||Dr Louis Ronse De Craene
Tel: (0131) 248 2804
|Course secretary||Miss Vicky Mactaggart
Tel: (0131 6)51 7052
© Copyright 2015 The University of Edinburgh - 18 January 2016 4:45 am