This course provides an overview of the application of molecular genetic techniques to problems in ecology, evolution, natural resource management and animal and plant breeding. An emphasis is placed on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the approach based on case studies.
In this class, students learn techniques of molecular analysis with emphasis on DNA methods, including PCR, DNA sequencing, RFLP, RAPD and VNTR analysis and cloning. These techniques will be applied to fisheries, aquaculture, oceanography, population and evolutionary studies, and other areas of science.
The past few years have seen the development of a plethora of new methods of population genetic analysis. Rather than just estimating genetic differentiation and diversity, these methods now allow the quantification of migration rates and time since divergence, identification of migrants, estimation of population sizes and even separation of samples into genetically homogenous groups. Although most of these new methods are computationally intensive, advances in PC computer power, together with a multitude of freely available programs, make their application on desktop computers feasible. The large number of approaches and easy availability of programs, however, adds further importance to the choice of the appropriate method for the biological question under study. The aim of this class is to provide an overview of the various methods, with a critical evaluation of their assumptions and their application to real world examples and hands-on experience with computer programs.