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BCB Program
Life Sciences South 441D
PO Box 443051
Moscow, ID 83844-3051
(208) 885-6010

Biology 522 Molecular Evolution Expectations

This class will take a rigorous and quantitative approach to understanding the processes of molecular evolution and the analyses available to detect patterns and make strong inferences. It will focus on reading primary scientific literature presenting molecular evolution theory, describing statistics and analytical tools, and implementing those analyses on empirical data.

Students will be best served by having a mastery of the basic concepts of evolution and genetics at the level of upper-level undergraduate courses in those areas, as well as fluency in basic statistical concepts and mathematics through calculus. However, these are not prerequisites if students are willing to put in extra effort to catch up in areas of weakness, and it is expected that students will have a wide range of backgrounds. For example, important concepts include:
  • Structure and roles of DNA, RNA, protein; replication, transcription, translation
  • Gene regulation and expression; structure of chromosomes; mutational processes
  • Population genetics: Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, genetic drift, mutation, selection, recombination, demography, effective population size, dominance, epistasis, etc.
  • Microevolution: sexual selection, coevolution, heritability, biogeography, speciation, phylogenetics
  • Statistics: mean, variance, p-values, probability distributions
  • Math: differentiation, integration
Resources for background information in these areas are textbooks and notes from undergraduate-level courses, online resources, and your classmates and the instructor.