Learning outcomes of the course unit
In the first part of the course special care is given to the description of the experimental protocols. This aspect should point out that the Mendelian genetics allowed for a high degree of understanding of the main mechanisms of inheritance, without the need to known the physico-chemical structure of the gene. In order to better understand this point, a number of lessons is dedicated to the resolution of problems on the Mendelian genetics and its extensions.
Description of experiments is also an important point in the second part of the course. The graduate should clearly understand “how” the researchers proved the existence of fine molecular mechanisms such as replication, transcription or deciphering the genetic code. Special care is given to molecular evolution, pointing out that that the biological molecules under examination are a common inheritance of all living organisms.
Aim of the third part of the course is the knowledge of a number of statistical methods which are important in the field of the genetic improvement of plants and animal (genetic of quantitative traits). Understanding of the microevolution process is favored by a detailed explanation of the mathematical aspects intrinsic to population genetics.
Good knowledge of mathematics, chemistry and physics
Course contents summary
The aim of the course is a clear understanding of the main mechanisms of inheritance.
The first part concerns the Mendelian genetics. It covers a span of time comprised between the beginning and the half of the XX century (from rediscovery of the Mendelian laws to description of the fine structure of the gene by Benzer). Gene is described as an hereditary factor, which can be identified by the presence of at least one allele and then mapped on the chromosome by means of genetic crosses. The construction of a genetic map in bacteria and in eukaryotic organisms is explained in detail.
The second part of the course concerns the molecular basis of the gene expression. Rather than an abstract entity, the gene is now a double stranded nucleotide sequence which must be recognized by a number of proteins. The topics are the chemical structure of the genetic material, the structure of the chromosome (from the double-helix model to the compact metaphasic structure), the replication and transcription of DNA, the deciphering of the genetic code and the translation of RNA into proteins. Point mutations, DNA repair, and regulation of gene expression in bacteria are also treated in detail.
The third part of the course is a further extension of the Mendelian genetics. It concerns the genetics of the quantitative traits and the fate of the genetic material in populations. Since these topics are preeminently quantitative, special care is given to the statistical methods.
1) Introduction to genetics
2) Mitosis and meiosis
3) Mendelian genetics
4) Extension of the Mendelian genetics
5) Gene mapping in eukaryotes
6) Gene mapping in bacteria and phages
7) Sex determination
10) Structure and analysis of DNA
11) Replication and recombination
12) Organization of DNA into chromosomes
13) Transcription and deciphering the genetic code
14) Translation of mRNA and basic elements of protein structure
15) Point mutations and DNA repair
16) Regulation of gene expresion in prokaryotes
24) Genetics of quantitative traits
25) Population genetics
Klug W.S, Cummings M.R. Concetti di Genetica. Pearson Editore
Frontal lessons and exercises (resolution of Mendelian genetics problems).
Assessment methods and criteria
Written examination (resolution of 3 problems of Mendelian genetics) and oral examination. What is ascertained is the ability of the student to explain, with a good care of language, both topics of Mendelian genetics and of molecular genetics.
Is appreciated a good knowledge of the English language