Genetics is Changing how we Think and Work in health science, agriculture, horticulture ...and much more!
With modern advances in DNA analysis and gene sequencing, an
understanding of genetics will be more important as we move into the
future. However, it can be a hard subject to understand if you don't
have a proper grasp of the fundamentals. Understanding those
fundamentals is what this course is all about!
Studying genetics can feel like studying another language – the
biological language of genes and DNA. It is expected that you will have
some prior biological knowledge to undertake this course.
This is a vast subject and knowledge of genetics is growing daily - you
cannot learn everything in one course; but with this course as a
foundation, you are better placed to understand what you encounter, and
continue your learning over the years that follow.
Learn about cell functioning, traits, characteristics and heritability.
This is how living organisms become what they are, and how different species vary from one another
There are 10 lessons in this course:
- Introduction to Genetics
Scope, nature and history
Darwin and Mendel
Mendel’s law of segregation
Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment
Advances since Mendel
Important genetics terminology
- Cells, Organelles and Cell Division
Organelles in the cell
Cell structure and function
Organelles in plants -Cell wall, Vacuole,Plastids
Organelles in plants and animals - plasma membrane, cytoplasm, ribosomes etc.
Genetic structures and materials
Cell division –meiosis and mitosis
Four stages of Mitosis
Gamete production in plants
- Interaction between Chromosomes
Sex linked inheritance
Colour blindness example
Linkage and crossing over
- Interaction between Genes
Traits and gene expression
- Genetic Chemistry
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Structure
Double Stranded Helix
Understanding the genetic code
Role of proteins
Transcription and translation
Post translational modification
Introns and exons
Reading the code
Point mutations (single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)
Point substitution mutation
Categories of gene mutations
How do mutations occur
Viruses or other microorganisms
Effect of mutations
Repair of mutations
- DNA Repair and Recombination
Methyl directed mismatch repair
Photoreactivation (Light dependent repair)
- Developmental Genetics
Genetics are instructions for structures
Cellular organisation and differentiation
Model organisms used in developmental genetics
Why study developmental genetics
The human genome project
Genetic advances in birth defects
Gene therapy and cancer
- Population genetics
What is population genetics
Genetic variation within a population
How do we measure genetic variation
The hardy weinberg law
Evolutionary agents and their effect on population genetics
Movement of individuals between populations
Non random mating
- Applied Genetics
Genetics in breeding animals
Farm animal breeding
Genetics for breeding plants
Cloning -somatic cell nuclear transfer
Modifying organisms genetically
Agricultural applications for transgenics
Medical applications for transgenics
Transgenics to modify DNA in plants
Genetics in human health science
Diagnosis of disease
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
- To acknowledge the history of modern genetics and interpret important terminology in genetics work used, specifically relating to areas of study such as plant and animal sciences, conservation of plant and animal species, agriculture, horticulture, veterinary medicine and human health sciences.
- To develop understanding of the structures (organelles) of cells and comprehend their basic functions specifically relating to cell division.
- To discuss the main ways features are inherited.
- To develop knowledge of biological interactions and understand the significance of gene expression in heritability.
- Describe chemicals and reactions involved in genetics including protein synthesis.
- Explain the nature and management of genetic mutations.
- Develop understanding of how DNA repair mechanisms, and recombination to understand the significance of DNA cleaving and re-joining.
- Demonstrate an understanding of genetics to explain how variations occur in living organisms both within and beyond species.
- Explain both the significance and dynamics of genetic variation within populations of different living organisms.
- Describe how genetic knowledge is applied to a variety of human endeavors.
Everything from agriculture and horticulture, to veterinary and human health science, is being impacted increasingly by our rapidly developing understanding of genetics. While the future may not be predictable, there is little doubt that a knowledge of genetics will lay a very good foundation for many business and employment opportunities over the coming decades. Consider the following:
Farm Animal Breeding
Selective breeding in farm animals is centered around identifying the most desirable characteristics and breeding from those animals that display them. Traits essentially fit into five basic categories.
- Fitness traits: these are usually linked to reproduction such as litter size, conception rate, gestation length, survival rates of young
- Production traits: these include milk yield, growth rate, feed efficiency, number of eggs.
- Quality traits: these include carcass composition, level of fat, meat and milk quality.
- Type traits: these include physical appearance such as coat colour, udder shape, number of teats in pigs.
- Behavioural traits: these include herding ability in sheep dogs, temperament, mothering ability.
Whereas the main objective of a farm animal breeding program is to improve performance, breeding programs for pedigree cats and dogs and other pet animals has centered on how they look i.e. the phenotype. This has led to the development of over 1700 different dog breeds throughout the world. Pedigree dog breeding is big business and can generate significant amounts of money for the breeder. In recent years it has come under heavy criticism as one of the consequences of breeding for specific traits that effect appearance is that other genes may also be selected that are detrimental to the dogs health and welfare. In particular some breeds e.g. pugs and King Charles Spaniels were being breed with such shortened noses that they were having breathing problems
Plant breeding has been practiced for thousands of years, since near the beginning of human civilization. It is essentially the manipulation of plant species in order to create desired genotypes and phenotypes for specific purposes. These days, this manipulation involves either controlled pollination, genetic engineering, or both, followed by artificial selection of progeny. Classical plant breeding uses the planned crossing of closely or distantly related individuals to produce new crop varieties or lines with desirable properties. These may include colour, shape, disease resistance or potential yield in crop producing plants. Plants are cross bred to introduce traits/genes from one variety or line into a new genetic background.
It is now practiced worldwide by government institutions and commercial enterprises as it is believed that breeding new crops is important for ensuring food security through the development of crops suitable for their environment such as drought conditions or warmer climates.
Genetics research has lead to an understanding of what causes disease, the diagnosis of diseases and genetic screening to identify populations that are of risk from a specific genetic disorder.
Diagnosis of disease
Genetic testing is used to diagnose many disorders such as Turner’s syndrome, Klinefleter’s syndrome and many heart and blood disorders. The diagnosis of a genetic disorder may indicate that the relatives of the affected person should be screened for the genetic defect or whether they carry the gene.
This is the use of a test to identify people who have, are predisposed to or carriers of a certain genetic disease. It can be applied at many stages of life and used for a variety of purposes.
Where will a knowledge of genetics lead me?
You may simply wonder about how genetics affects people… For example, why do we look the way we do? What role does genetics play in disease? What can genetic testing tell us? How do we consider genetics in breeding? Studying this course will help explain genetics in every day life.
To enrol, simply follow the prompts by clicking on the green “enrol now” button on the top right-hand side of the page
Or… if you need more help in deciding if this is the right course for you, click HERE for free course counselling.