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Data Analysis Project


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Welcome to ZOL855 F11!

About the Course:

Molecular Evolution focuses on the evolution of macromolecules and the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of genes and organisms. This course touches on both of these aspects of molecular evolution, but is designed primarily to familiarize students with techniques that use information about genetic variation within and between species to estimate population genetic parameters and reconstruct phylogenetic relationships. Thus, we will examine different types of genetic variation, how this variation is assayed, and how the resulting data are analyzed. A major goal of this course is to provide students with experience in making and interpreting phylogenetic trees. While we will focus primarily on the analysis of DNA sequence data, we will also spend time examining other types of data that reflect genetic variation, and that are used to make inferences about population structure and phylogenetic relationships. These include microsatellites, and DNA fingerprinting techniques (AFLP). In each case, we will study and discuss primary literature articles that exemplify the technique, dissecting the data that are presented in the papers. A large part of the course will be taught as a workshop devoted to the analysis of genetic data using the computer programs MEGA5, Mr. Bayes, and several others. Students will learn sequence alignment techniques, and how and when to use distance methods, maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian approaches. Grades will be based on a classroom presentation (5%), a set of short written assignments to be completed in conjunction with the workshops (25%), a single mid-term exam (30%), and a term project (40%). Performance and participation during class, computer workshops, and in-class exercises, will be used to determine grades for students on the "borderline".


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