BIOL 443 – Evo-Devo: Evolution of Developmental Mechanisms (3 credits, Spring)

Course Goals and Objectives:

The goal of this course is for students to develop a holistic perspective on how the diversity of form in life has been acquired over time through modifications in genes and development.

Students most broadly will learn:
1) How modification in anatomical form occurs through changes in genes and development
2) How the human form is a consequence of innovations at various points of our evolutionary past.
3) To integrate students’ biological knowledge towards a holistic perspective on how the diversity of Earths biota has been attained.
4) Concepts in the fields of genetics, development, zoology, botany, phylogenetics, population genetics, and evolution.
5) To predict the mechanisms generating diversity in unstudied systems given knowledge gained from case studies.
6) Molecular tools used by researchers in this field.
7) How to read, interpret, and synthesize scientific papers.

Students will learn the following concepts in Evo-Devo:
• How body plans form
• Genetic and developmental mechanisms underlying modification of form
• The role of Hox genes in body plan diversity
• How developmental processes have changed across the tree of life with examples from the first multicellular life to plants, vertebrates (including humans) and invertebrates.
• Homology (morphological, developmental, genetic) and convergence
• How modularity and gene regulation have enabled developmental evolution
• How changing the timing (heterochrony), spatial distribution (heterotopy), extent (heterometry), and kinds (heterotypy) of gene expression results in diversity
• How the environment can change developmental trajectories (eco-evo-devo)
• Human innovations, variation, and genetics from an evolutionary context.

Syllabus: evo-devosyllabusspring2019