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Eco-Evo-Devo: How Genome and Environment Affect Organismal Development -- EEB 405

Undergraduate Students at UMBS Use CRISPR to Study Monarch Butterfly Genetics

In the face of global environmental change, students in the four-week course called Eco-Evo-Devo — a combination of field-based research and modern technology — explore resiliency and how nature’s biodiversity comes to be.

3 credits

Recommended prerequisites: BIOLOGY 171 or equivalent (e.g. BIOLOGY 195), two college-level courses in biology, or permission of instructor.

Satisfies requirements for: BS, PitE Practical Experience, Biology Lab, EEB Field/Research, and EEB Biodiversity

Meets: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

InstructorAndré Green

Course Description

Organismal form and function result not only from instructions encoded within the genome, but also from environmental context. In this course, we will examine how abiotic (e.g. temperature, nutrition) and biotic (e.g. species interactions) environmental contexts shape organismal development, how these ‘interactions’ are encoded in and interpreted by genomes, and how this encoding influences how organisms evolve on a dynamic planet. This is the emerging field of ecological evolutionary developmental biology or "eco-evo-devo."

This integrated classroom-lab-field course will introduce the foundational principles of eco-evo-devo (e.g. phenotypic plasticity, developmental symbiosis, genetic assimilation andaccommodation, etc.) through the lens of genetics. Discussions and readings will examinemajor concepts and explore contemporary controversies in the field.

In a hybrid lab-fieldresearch project, we will use cutting edge molecular genetics techniques (including CRISPR) to illustrate fundamental concepts in eco-evo-devo while leveraging the remarkable biodiversity at UMBS.

A primary goal for this research experience is to introduce you to research and equip you with sufficient training to confidently enter research labs in a variety of fields (e.g. EEB, MCDB, biomedicine, etc.).

The learning goals for the course include the following:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of foundational eco-evo-devo concepts
  2. Apply critical thinking skills to a scientific question
  3. Develop analytical skills to quantify and analyze phenotypic data
  4. Communicate results of scientific investigation (journal-style article on results)
  5. Gain practical skills for joining the scientific workforce
Sam MacKinnon, a UMBS student in the summer of 2023
Dorian Campillo, left, a UMBS student in the summer of 2023
Dr. André Green, a UMBS instructor and an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at U-M