ENVIRON/GENOME 600-LEVEL COURSE; 3 units
- Next time offered: Fall 2013
- Previously taught: Fall 2011 as ENVIRON 298-111 (6629); Fall 2012 as ENVIRON 627-01 (7581)/ GENOME 627-01(8352)
- Instructor: Jen Wernegreen (j.wernegreen [at] duke.edu)
- Target students: first- and second-year Ph.D. students; MEM’s and upper-level undergraduates with permission of instructor.
The field of molecular ecology, an extension of ecological genetics, employs molecular tools to investigate ecological processes within natural populations and communities. While genetic techniques are central to this discipline, the course will not be a methods class per se. Rather, we will emphasize fundamental principles and predictions from ecological and evolutionary theory, as well as historical approaches and precedents. We will explore examples from a range of organisms (e.g., bacteria, plants, animals, fungi), and across diverse environments (e.g., terrestrial, aquatic, and marine). In addition to examining basic ecological questions, we’ll also explore recent controversies in areas of applied importance (e.g., GMO’s, adaptation to a changing climate, antibiotic resistance, conservation genetics). The class is targeted to 1st and 2nd -year PhD students, MEM students, and upper-level undergraduates. The format will include interactive presentations, student-led discussions of the primary literature, team-based work, and computer analysis of real datasets.
- -Population and ecological genetics
- -Molecular biology: fundamentals for ecologists
- -Sampling design; statistical analysis of different marker types
- -Behavioral ecology, breeding systems
- -Speciation processes
- -Microbial systems and metagenomics
- -Data analysis, including use of databases
- -Environmental genomics and transcriptome analyses
- -Conservation genetics
- -Societal implications (Genetically-modified organisms, Emerging pathogens, Antibiotic resistance, Other student-motivated topics).
- -Compare molecular approaches to address central questions in ecology and environmental biology, including areas with applied/management implications.
- -Critically evaluate recent examples of molecular ecology research, through discussion of the primary literature.
- -Assess approaches and tools available, through analysis of example and real datasets.
- -Refine critical and creative thinking skills, via writing reports that synthesize concepts, oral presentation, collaboration, and critique of peers’ work.
The class is targeted to a broad range of students, including upper-level undergraduates, master’s students (e.g., MEM’s), and first- and second-year Ph.D. students. The course is most relevant to those studying ecology, population genetics, ecotoxicology, conservation genetics, environmental management, evolutionary biology, and other environmental sciences. Although there are no prerequisites, some background in molecular genetics, population genetics and/or ecology is strongly recommended. Supplemental reading materials in these areas will be provided to students as needed.
- Interactive presentations and team-based work to evaluate key concepts and develop sufficient background to discuss the primary literature.
- Discussion sessions to critique primary articles and to analyze actual datasets from those studies.
- Data analysis sessions in the computer lab, to examine, analyze, and interpret a wide range of molecular datasets.
- Textbook for course: Molecular Ecology, 2011, by Joanna R. Freeland. John Wiley and Sons.
Supplemental Textbooks (on reserve):
- - An Introduction to Molecular Ecology, 2008, by Trevor Beebee and Graham Rowe. Oxford University Press.
- - Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory, 2006, by Alan R. Templeton. John Wiley and Sons.
- - Molecular Markers, Natural History, and Evolution, 2004, by John C. Avise. Sinauer Associates, Inc.
Additional readings for Discussion:
- Recent primary and review papers from the literature, including articles selected by students. Example sources include:
- - Integrative Ecology: From Molecules to Ecosystems. Edited by: Guy Woodward. Advances in Ecological Research, Volume 43, Pages 1-313 (2010).
- - Special issue of Molecular Ecology: Next generation molecular ecology. vol 19, Suppl 1. 2010.
Other program fulfillments:
- -Approved alternate elective for the Biology major (i.e., biology majors can take this course as one of their 5 electives for the major).
- -Counts toward the undergraduate certificate in Genome Sciences & Policy.
- Please contact Jen Wernegreen with any questions about the course.
- j.wernegreen [at] duke.edu
- office: 919 681 0331, CIEMAS 2175