iGenetics: A Molecular Approach (3rd Edition)
An Approach to Teaching Genetics
The structure of DNA was first described in 1953, and since that time genetics has become one of the most exciting and ground-breaking sciences. Our understanding of gene structure and function has progressed rapidly since molecular techniques were developed to clone or amplify genes, and rapid methods for sequencing DNA became available. In recent years, the sequencing of the genomes of a large number of viruses and organisms has changed the scope of experiments performed by geneticists. For example, we can study a genome’s worth of genes now in one experiment, allowing us to obtain a more complete understanding
of gene expression.
I have taught genetics for over 35 years, while at the same time maintaining a molecular genetics research program involving undergraduates. Students learn genetics best if they are given a balanced approach that integrates their understanding of the abstract nature of genes (from the transmission genetics part) with the molecular nature of genes (from the molecular genetics part). My goal in this edition, as in previous editions, is to provide students with a clear and logical presentation of the material, in combination with an experimental theme that makes clear how we know what we know. The many examples of experiments used to answer questions and test hypotheses are models that show students how they might themselves develop questions and hypotheses, and design experiments. It is my hope that you will find my approach helpful to you in teaching this course successfully, as have so many colleagues who have used past editions. The general features of iGenetics: A Molecular Approach, Third Edition, are as follows:
Modern Coverage. The field of genetics has grown rapidly in recent years. In creating this text I have worked with experts in the field to ensure that we present these exciting developments with the highest degree of accuracy. The book covers all major areas of genetics, balancing classical and molecular aspects to give students an integrated view of genetic principles. The classical genetics
material tends to be abstract and more intuitive, while the molecular genetics material is more factual and conceptual. Teaching genetics, therefore, requires teaching these two styles, as well as conveying the necessary information. The modern coverage reflects this. The molecular material, which is the material that changes most rapidly in genetics, is current and presented at a suitable level for students. Enhanced for this edition is the coverage of genomics, the analysis of the information contained within complete genomes of organisms.
Experimental Approach. Research is the foundation of our present knowledge of genetics. The presentation of experiments throughout iGenetics allows students to learn about the formulation and study of scientific questions in a way that will be of value in their study of genetics and, more generally, in all areas of science. The amount of information that students must learn is constantly growing, making it crucial that students not simply memorize facts, but rather learn how to learn. In my classroom and in this text I emphasize basic principles, but I place them in the meaningful context of classic and modern experiments. Thus, in observing the process of science, students learn for themselves the type of critical thinking that leads to the formulation of hypotheses and experimental questions and, thence, to the generation of new knowledge.
Classic Principles. Our present understanding of genes is built on the foundation of classic experiments, a number of which have led to discoveries recognized by the Nobel Prize. These classic experiments are described so that students can appreciate how ideas about genetic processes have developed to our present-day understanding. These experiments include:
•Griffith’s transformation experiment
•Avery and his colleagues’ transformation experiment
•Hershey and Chase’s bacteriophage experiment
•Meselson and Stahl’s DNA replication experiment
•Beadle and Tatum’s one-gene–one-enzyme hypothesis experiments
•Mendel’s experiments on gene segregation
•Thomas Hunt Morgan’s experiments on gene linkage
•Seymour Benzer’s experiments on the fine structure of the gene
•Jacob and Monod’s experiments on the lac operon
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