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GENE314 Developmental Genetics

Genetics and epigenetics of development and human disease. Developmental gene regulation. Developmental genetics of plants. Morphogenesis, regeneration and stem cells.

The lecture course traverses four topics in developmental genetics. The first topic is evolution and development. The second topic is flowering time in plants, which will give you background in plant developmental genetics. The third topic will focus on chromatin structure and developmental disease, bringing in both epigenetic control of gene expression in development as well as introducing human aspects to developmental genetics. The final topic will focus on how structures are built in the vertebrate embryos, how they regenerate if damaged and the concepts and importance of stem cells for future medical applications.

In the labs you will learn four important techniques - Immunohistochemistry, RNA interference, Genetic Screening and in-situ hybridisation - as well as introducing you to three new model organisms: the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans; the chick; and the thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana. The practical course will also focus on teaching you microscopy and imaging, key techniques in developmental genetics.

Paper title Developmental Genetics
Paper code GENE314
Subject Genetics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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GENE 223 and (GENE 221 or GENE 222)
Schedule C
This paper includes additional non-streamed lab time that does not appear in the timetable. Please contact the department for further details.
Appropriate for students majoring in genetics, other biological and health sciences and molecular biotechnology.

Teaching staff

Convenor: Professor Richard Macknight (Department of Biochemistry)

Other teaching staff:

Professor Peter Dearden (Department of Biochemistry)

Associate Julia Horsfield (Department of Pathology)

Associate Professor Caroline Beck (Department of Zoology)

Dr Gillian MacKay (Genetics Programme)

Paper Structure

The lecture course is divided into 4 lecture modules with 6 lectures in each module, and there are 4 lab modules.

Teaching Arrangements

All labs are held in the Genetics Laboratory, Room G09, Biochemistry building.
GENE 314 Labs are held in the first half of Semester 2 (GENE 313 labs are held during the second half of semester 2).

Lab streams are:
Monday 2pm - 6pm / all day Tuesday or Thursday 2pm - 6pm / all day Friday (note you can attend lectures during the morning sessions).


Lecturers in this course will provide readings where appropriate via the eReserve link on blackboard, as there are no perfect texts for this paper. However, for a good, well rounded text to support or extend your learning we recommend checking out these from the library. They will be available on reserve from the Science library.

Principles of Development, 5th ed 2015 by Wolpert, Tickle, Martinez-Arias

Developmental Biology 10th Ed. 2016 by Gilbert

Other useful texts include Essential Developmental Biology - 3rd Ed 2012 by Slack and earlier editions of the above. "Slack" can be found in the medical school library.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper should develop skills in modern developmental genetics including:

  • Development of an understanding of modern approaches to developmental genetics, including the logic of experiments and the inferences drawn from them.
  • Development of key skills in imaging and manipulating embryos in genetics experiments.
  • Gaining an understanding of the roles of cell signalling processes, epigenetics and morphogens in development.
  • To build an understanding of plant and animal development, both experimental and theoretical.
  • To develop skills in interpreting developmental genetic experimental data.

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 14:00-17:50 29-33
Tuesday 14:00-17:50 28-33
A2 Thursday 14:00-17:50 28-33
Friday 14:00-17:50 29-33