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GENE312 Evolutionary Genetics

Theoretical and molecular population genetics. Evolution of genes and proteins and molecular aspects of biodiversity. Molecular evolutionary genetics of hominids. Molecular phylogenetics and phylogeography. Comparative genomics.

GENE 312 is designed for students majoring in the biological sciences. Most of our students are Genetics or Zoology majors, but the paper can be a useful adjunct for those reading Anthropology, Biochemistry, Botany, Ecology, Law, Mathematics or Microbiology. The paper examines population and evolutionary genetic theory in association with empirical data. A central focus is the way genes and genomes change through time and the evolutionary information that they contain. The paper is particularly appropriate for those interested in evolution, systematics or conservation biology. The lecture course is complemented by a laboratory course that teaches relevant research skills, after which students carry out a research project.

Paper title Evolutionary Genetics
Paper code GENE312
Subject Genetics
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,038.45
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,680.00

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Two of GENE 221, GENE 222, ZOOL 222
Schedule C
In approved cases, another 200-level biological sciences paper may be substituted for one of GENE 221, 222, ZOOL 222.
The formal prerequisites are TWO of GENE 221, GENE 222 and ZOOL 222. However, we are keen to attract good students from diverse backgrounds, so good performance in 200-level papers across the sciences will be considered as alternatives.
Teaching staff
Professor Graham Wallis
Professor Hamish Spencer
Dr David Orlovich
Professor Iain Lamont
Professor Jon Waters (Department of Zoology)
Paper Structure
The lecture course comprises 8 topics:
  • Molecular polymorphism
  • Molecular evolution
  • Evolution of hominids
  • Population genetic theory
  • Non-Mendelian inheritance and expression
  • Biodiversity and phylogenetics
  • Phylogeography
  • Genome evolution
The lecture course is complemented by four formal lab classes. Students then develop a group research project, including the following phases: proposal, literature review, data collection, data analysis, written and oral reporting.
Teaching Arrangements
There are six weeks of laboratory classes. Students then carry out their research projects, in teams, over the remainder of the paper.
The recommended text books for GENE 312 are:
Genetics of Populations (Hedrick 2005)
Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution (Graur & Li 2000)
Evolution (Barton et al. 2007)

GENE 312 also makes extensive use of reviews and original papers from the scientific literature. PDFs of these will be placed on Blackboard.
Course outline
View the information sheet for GENE 312
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
The academic objectives of GENE 312 are to understand:
  • Molecular genetic variation among individuals
  • How genes and proteins change through time
  • Testing and applying molecular clocks
  • What different genetic markers tell us about the origins and evolution of humans
  • The theoretical population genetics underlying population change and structure
  • Epigenetics
  • Use of genetic markers to estimate biodiversity and phylogeny
  • Comparative genomic variation

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41
Tuesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
P1 Wednesday 14:00-17:50 28-34, 36-41