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GENE221 Molecular and Microbial Genetics

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Mutations; genetic analysis in bacteria; mobile genetic elements; genetic analysis of regulatory circuits; DNA cloning and sequencing in genetic analysis; comparative microbial genomics; genetics and evolution of viruses of eukaryotes.

GENE 221 provides foundation material on molecular and microbial genetics. Topics include mutation, gene transfer and genetic analysis in bacteria, DNA cloning, comparative genomics, phenotype-genotype associations in microbial genomes. Discoveries and methodologies in microbial genetics underlie all aspects of modern biology, and therefore, this paper is directly relevant for students with an interest in any of the biological sciences. The lecture course is complemented by a laboratory course that includes four experiments that together give hands-on experience of many of the genetic principles that are discussed in the lectures. The four laboratory topics are mutations, conjugation, transposons and cloning.

Paper title Molecular and Microbial Genetics
Paper code GENE221
Subject Genetics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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CELS 191 and CHEM 191 and 36 further points
GENE 211
Recommended Preparation or Concurrent Study
BIOC 221
Schedule C
Essential for students majoring in genetics or microbiology and appropriate for students majoring in biochemistry, molecular biotechnology and all other biological sciences.

Teaching staff

Co-Convenors: Professor Peter Fineran (Department of Microbiology & Immunology) & Dr Gillian MacKay (Genetics Teaching Programme).
Other teaching staff: Professor Iain Lamont (Department of Biochemistry)
Professor Clive Ronson (Department of Microbiology & Immunology)
Associate Professor Paul Gardner (Department of Biochemistry)

Paper Structure

The lecture course is divided into 6 modules:

  • Mutations - the basis of genetics
  • Gene transfer and genetic analysis in bacteria
  • Genetic analysis of regulatory circuits
  • DNA cloning as a tool for genetic analysis
  • Comparative microbial genomics and evolution
  • Natural selection and phenotype-genotype associations in microbial genomes

The lecture course is complemented by a laboratory course, which provides training in relevant genetic methods and data analysis, including mutagen detection using the Ames test, gene mapping by conjugation, transposon mutagenesis and DNA cloning using a plasmid vector.

Teaching Arrangements

There are six weeks of laboratory classes, one every second week, and students are assigned to one of four lab streams (Monday, Thursday and Friday afternoons; first lab on the first Thursday of semester).


The recommended text book for GENE 221 is:
Introduction to Genetic Analysis (Griffiths, Wessler, Carroll, Doebley), 12th Edition. Earlier editions of this book are also satisfactory if you have access to a copy.

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

Students who successfully complete this paper should gain understanding of

  • The molecular basis and significance of mutation
  • Classical genetics of bacteria
  • The genetic approaches used in analysing gene regulation in bacteria
  • DNA cloning as a tool for genetic analysis
  • Comparative microbial genomics and evolution
  • Natural selection and phenotype-genotype associations in microbial genomes

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 15, 18-22
C1 Wednesday 12:00-12:50 9-15, 17-22
D1 Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 14:00-18:50 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20
A2 Friday 14:00-18:50 9, 11, 13, 18, 20
Saturday 09:00-12:50 17
A3 Monday 14:00-18:50 10, 12, 14, 19, 21
Saturday 14:00-17:50 17
A4 Friday 14:00-18:50 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21
A5 Monday 14:00-18:50 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22