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Experimental Evolution

Biology Master, ENS
Year : M2
Coordination : Henrique Teotonio, ENS
Hours : 50h
Credits : 3 ECTS
Semester : 1st semester
Number of students : 15

Prerequisites for the course :A basic course in evolutionary theory (for example "Evolutionary Genetics" in the ENS M1 curriculum, “Genetic basis of phenotypic variation” in the ENS M2 curriculum, or the equivalent elsewhere.)

Aims :The students will be introduced to current evolutionary theory and the experimental approaches that aim to test it.
The course will start with an historical introduction to experimental evolution and issues of statistical design. World-renowned scientists will give lectures on quantitative genetics, the evolution of sexuality and the genetic basis of adaptation. Lectures will be complemented with computer projects on the analysis of experimental population genomics data with R.
The course will be designed to maximize interactions between the students and the teaching staff and will require a major investment of the students in terms of independent work.

Themes : The course will have lectures on multilevel selection, population structure and the emergence of microbial communities, frequency and density dependent selection in constant and fluctuating environments.
It will cover the notions of epistasis, pleiotropy and redundancy in the context of gene networks. The concepts of adaptive, fitness and phenotype landscapes will also be covered.
Students will be able to model the effects of genetic drift, purifying, positive and balancing selection on genome-wide genotype data while taking into account recombination rates and breeding mode. The statistics of heterozygosity, inbreeding, linkage and identity disequilibrium will also be covered.

Organisation : This course is organised as one full week, with lectures and research seminars in the morning, with practical sessions in the afternoons. Students are expected to present the results of the computer work done during the week to the faculty.
On the last day, students will be evaluated for their performance during the course.

Assessment / evaluation : Oral exam after the course

Course material (hand-outs, online presentation available, …) : Syllabus and other course materials will be provided to the students one week in advance of the start of the course.

Suggested readings in relation with the module content (textbook chapters, reviews, articles) :
Gayon, J. (1998). Darwinism´s Struggle for Survival : Heredity and the Hypothesis of Natural Selection. New York, Cambridge University Press.

  • Rose, M. R. and G. V. Lauder (1996). Adaptation. San Diego, Academic Press.
  • Wright, S. (1977). Evolution and the Genetics of Populations : Experimental Results and Evolutionary Deductions. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
  • Bell, G. (2009). Selection : The Mechanism of Evolution. Oxford, Oxford University Press