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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 on Notch signalling and focuses on how cell signalling pathways control cell fate from a cellular to a molecular level. 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 0.1500
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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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 Peter Dearden (Department of Biochemistry)
Other teaching staff: Associate Professor Julia Horsfield (Department of Pathology), Associate Professor Richard Macknight (Department of Biochemistry), Associate Professor Caroline Beck (Department of Zoology) and DrGillian 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 Room G09, Biochemistry building.
While much of this paper will be taught from papers and the expertise of the lecturers, good text books in this area include:

Principles of Development. Third Edition Lewis Wolpert, Jim Smith, Tom Jessell, Peter Lawrence, Elizabeth Robertson, and Elliot Meyerowitz. Oxford University Press

Essential Developmental Biology. Second Edition Jonathan Slack. Wiley- Blackwell.

Developmental Biology. Eighth Edition.Scott F Gibert. Sinauer Assoc.

Molecular Principles of Animal Development.Alfonso Martinez-Arias and Alison Stewart. Oxford University Press.
Course outline
View the information sheet for GENE 314
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
This paper aims to 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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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 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
P1 Monday 14:00-17:50 28-33
Tuesday 14:00-17:50 28-33
P2 Thursday 14:00-17:50 28-33
Friday 14:00-17:50 28-33