GEN-30806 Population and Quantitative Genetics


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)dr. DK Aanen
Lecturer(s)dr. DK Aanen
prof. dr. BJ Zwaan
dr. WF van Hooft
dr. ir. P Bijma
Examiner(s)dr. DK Aanen
prof. dr. BJ Zwaan

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

GEN-11806 Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology (or equivalent course on the basics of genetics)


Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with PBR-33303 Quantitative and Population Genetics.

This course explains genetic and molecular evolution and their relationship to phenotypic evolution, of natural, captive and domesticated populations of living organisms, ranging from microbes to plants and animals. The course deals with the dynamics of genetic variation, by evaluating the effect of and the equilibrium between mutation, natural selection, genetic drift and migration. Furthermore, it deals with the translation of genotypic variation to phenotypic variation in interaction with environmental variation. Understanding the dynamics of genetic variation, and its translation to a phenotype, is not only important for understanding past and predicting future evolutionary change, but also for its relationship to biodiversity. Furthermore, population and quantitative genetic insights are essential for plant and animal breeders to exploit genetic variation.
Topics covered in this course are genetic variation and the evolution of gene frequency; multi-locus genetics and linkage disequilibrium; the effects of mutation, selection, drift, migration and inbreeding in relation to population structure; polygenic inheritance, heritability and the evolution of quantitative traits; genotype by environment interaction and environmental sensitivity; conservation genetics and the genetic management of small populations; using DNA sequence data to population processes, such as selective sweeps, genetic bottlenecks, genetic differentiation and divergence dates; and the interpretation of results from genetic analyses of populations.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- define and describe important population and quantitative genetic concepts such as: genetic drift, natural selection, selective sweep, inbreeding, heritability and quantitative traits;
- apply these population and quantitative genetic concepts to problems related to the genetic dynamics of natural, captive and artificially selected populations;
- apply population and quantitative genetic concepts to problems related to the erosion of genetic diversity and methods for genetic conservation of populations;
- infer consequences of population history for the current genetic characteristics of populations, and vice versa, to infer population history from current data.


Lectures and tutorials. The tutorials will be devoted to problem solving, data analysis (including ICT), and case studies from the literature.


Written individual test with 8 open questions, each with multiple sub questions; each of the 8 questions counts equally.
The minimum mark for passing is an average of 5.5.


The book Brian Charlesworth, Deborah Charlesworth. Elements of Evolutionary Genetics. 2010. Roberts and Company Publishers (USA), 734p. ISBN: 0981519423, 9780981519425 will be used. Most of the book will be treated through self-study, lectures and tutorials.

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScD: Ecology and Biodiversity6WD
MASAnimal SciencesMScA: Genetics and Biodiversity6WD
MPSPlant SciencesMScD: Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources6WD
MPSPlant SciencesMScD: Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources6WD
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScC: Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology6WD
MAMAquaculture and Marine Resource ManagementMScA: Aquaculture6WD
Restricted Optional for: WUWLBBSc Minor Wildlife Biodiversity6WD