Genetic Applications BSC308

Explore how the science of genetics can be applied to solve real life problems.


Course Content

This course is divided into ten lessons as follows:

Lesson 1. Inheritance Patterns and Non-Mendelian Genetics

  • Mendelian genetics
  • Mendel’s law of inheritance
  • Non- Mendelian genetics and inheritance patterns
  • Multiple allele traits
  • Codominance
  • Incomplete dominance
  • Pleiotropy
  • Inheritance tools
  • Pedigree

Lesson 2. Genetic Foundations 

  • Nucleic acids
  • Structure of DNA
  • Genomic DNA
  • Genomic libraries
  • Complementary DNA
  • Generating cDNA libraries
  • Autosomal DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Structure of mRNA

Lesson 3. Genetic Technologies

  • ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay)
  • Microarrays
  • Application of microarray
  • PCR (polymer chain reaction)
  • Gel Electrophoresis
  • Types of PCR
  • DNA sequencing technologies
  • Application of PCR and DNA sequencing technology
  • Bioinformatics 

Lesson 4. Complex Genetic Inheritance

  • Polygenic inheritance
  • Gene conversion
  • Epistasis
  • Cytoplasmic inheritance
  • Infectious Heredity
  • Mosaicism
  • Sex- linked inheritance

Lesson 5. Epigenetics

  • Introduction
  • Histone modification
  • DNA methylation
  • MicroRNA
  • Plant and Animal miRNA's
  • Plant examples
  • Livestock examples

Lesson 6. Genetic Modification (Genetic Engineering)

  • Introduction
  • Gene editing
  • Genetic Recombination
  • CRISPR-Cas9
  • Cloning
  • Mutagenesis
  • Horticultural application of mutagenesis

Lesson 7. Genome Editing and Ethical Considerations

  • Introduction
  • Somatic vs Germline gene editing
  • Good and bad uses for gene editing
  • GM foods and regulation
  • Ethical considerations - safety, informed consent, justice and equity, potential of eugenics

Lesson 8. Genomics and Crop Development

  • Introduction
  • Uses of genetic technology in agriculture
  • Genetically modified plants
  • Types of genetic modification
  • Benefits of GM crops
  • Examples of different GM crops

Lesson 9. Genomics and Livestock Development

  • Genomics in livestock
  • Heritability
  • Trait selection
  • Cloning
  • Transgenic Animals
  • Other animal genomic programs

Lesson 10. Genomics and Human Health

  • The human genome project
  • Human health and disease
  • Genome wide association studies
  • Genetic risk factors
  • Polygenetic Risk score
  • Health hereditary
  • Animal models
  • Personalised medicine
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Personalised wellness
  • Human microbiome
  • Case study - Covid 19
  • Case Study - genetic testing for cancer


Most students who take this course will have taken a foundation course in genetics first, hence will have a sound understanding of what genetics is. Some of that foundation may be revised in this course; but the essence of this course is to consider applications in a broader sense.

The aim of this course is for you to be able to explain how knowledge of genetics can be applied to real world tasks across a range of different industries.


Genetic modification is any time the genetic blueprint of an organism is manipulated in a way other than by means of natural processes such as random mutations and natural mating. This process can also be referred to as genetic engineering or genetic manipulation. Typically, genetic modification is achieved through the application of some sort of biotechnology. However, genetic modification has been achieved over thousands of years through domestication of animals and breeding crops for desired traits. 

There is a sound argument for the application of genetic technology to remove the pain and suffering caused by genetic diseases. It is quite easily to extend the argument to seemingly beneficial physical traits like height, muscle mass or eye colour. This thought pattern can eventually lead to discussions around genetically engineering traits such as intelligence. However, these questions are underpinned by complex ethical and moral discussions. For all genetic manipulation, it is important to maintain perspective, something that once may have been considered a liability or undesirable traits may be an asset in the future. Environment has a huge role in the expression of traits. The potential of phenotypic expression is genetic, but it is complicated and impacted and reinforced by lots of different factors. The ability to capture the potential is environmental. It is important to maintain diversity within populations and gene pools as it is impossible to predict what traits are going to be useful in the future. 

Genetic technology has many applications for the prevention of disease, targeted medicines, and the prediction of genetic risk factors. Genomic testing, analysing large parts or even all a person’s DNA, can be used to identify genetic variants that are associated with diseases. This can be used in people who are sick to help diagnose but can also be used in healthy individuals to screen for risk factors. Commonly other methods of genetic modifications are used to make GMs human medicines such as insulin to control blood sugar levels and vaccines to prevent disease.

Gene therapy and genome editing in many ways seems like something of the future. But with the advent of genetic technology such as CRISPR-Cas9, the future is here. The ethical considerations of gene therapy and genome editing are a vital discussion point for the application of the technology; it has the potential to change the world.

  • Who decides which traits are normal and which constitute a disability or disorder?
  • Will the high costs of gene therapy make it available only to the wealthy?
  • Crispr has made it easy, how do you regulate the tech
  • Students need to understand the moral dimensions of science and technology to become conscientious and ethical researchers

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