Genetic Applications

Course CodeBSC308
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Genetics has increasingly moved from a theoretical science to a practical technology

  • Explore how
  • Understand the science and the real world applications for modern genetics.
  • Discover possibilities for applying genetics in farming, horticulture, health and other industries.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  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
  2. Genetic Foundations
    • Nucleic acids
    • Structure of DNA
    • Genomic DNA
    • Genomic libraries
    • Complementary DNA
    • Generating cDNA libraries
    • Autosomal DNA
    • Mitochondrial DNA
    • Structure of mRNA
  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
  4. Complex Genetic Inheritance
    • Polygenic inheritance
    • Gene conversion
    • Epistasis
    • Cytoplasmic inheritance
    • Infectious Heredity
    • Mosaicism
    • Sex- linked inheritance
  5. Epigenetics
    • Introduction
    • Histone modification
    • DNA methylation
    • MicroRNA
    • Plant and Animal miRNA's
    • Plant examples
    • Livestock examples
  6. Genetic Modification (Genetic Engineering)
    • Introduction
    • Gene editing
    • Genetic Recombination
    • CRISPR-Cas9
    • Cloning
    • Mutagenesis
    • Horticultural application of mutagenesis
  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
  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
  9. Genomics and Livestock Development
    • Genomics in livestock
    • Heritability
    • Trait selection
    • Cloning
    • Transgenic Animals
    • Other animal genomic programs
  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

Why study Genetic Applications?

The opportunities to apply genetics are developing at an ever increasing rate. The future is (of course) impossible to predict, but progress in the field of genetics has already changed our world in many significant, practical ways; and further significant change seemsa only a matter of time.

Studying now prepares you not only for now, but also for the future in so many fields - from agriculture and horticulture to human health and even conservation science.

There are a number of genetic application tools that are used to investigate DNA. This lesson focuses on some of the more common approaches and includes technologies such as Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), Microarrays, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and DNA sequencing tools. All of these techniques require the use of a laboratory and trained personnel, however the knowledge of these methods will help to appreciate how genetic analysis is carried out, along with a description of their various applications.

Epigenetics is the study of how heritable phenotypes are impacted by factors such as behaviour and the environment, without alterations to the genotype. These changes are achieved not by changing a genetic sequence, rather how the sequence is read. Epigenetics is often thought of as “in addition to” traditional genetics, and these changes often impact the expression of genes, but also includes any heritable phenotypic change.

You don’t just look different; you have become different. While if your genome is analysed, your DNA would still be exactly the same as it was. It is how it is read that is different, leading to these changes in looks. The base information is the same, but how it is read, interpreted, and expressed can be strikingly different. Sometimes called genetic punctuation. Epigenetics means “above genetics”. Your epigenome doesn’t change your DNA, rather if or by how much some genes are expressed based on factors influencing you. It is about what happens to genes over the course of your life and whether those changes are heritable.

One way for modulating gene function is to rewrite the epigenetics to influence gene expression without actually impacting the underlying DNA.

Overall, your methylation and histone patterns are what work together to instruct your genome.
Epigenetics is not permanent. It can change and it can be hereditary and changes over time largely based on many environmental factors like food, sun, exercise, smoking, drinking etc. These factors can cause malfunctions in methyl groups, binding to wrong sites and potentially leading to disease.
Epigenetics is a great example of the fact that you are not just the product of your genes, but also your environment.

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. 



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