How to teach a course on Genome Evolution

SoG_Course.pngEven though genomes have been sequenced for over two decades, I find that genomics is still not properly taught in most universities. In particular, Evolution is generally not awarded its proper place in the understanding of genomes.

In 2003, and then again in 2004, as a postdoc at the Weizmann Institute I created a course called Evolutionary Genomics which was a lot of fun. I taught it a couple more times at the Technion as an assistant professor, but it was always my dream to turn it into a book.

Joining forces with Martin Lercher we made that dream a reality and we are so proud of the The Society of Genes book! We did it by revamping the old course together. I’m happy to make available our slides here:

  1. The sequence architecture of the human genome and the E. coli genome
  2. Cancer as a disease of the genome
  3. The genomic basis for the animal and bacterial immune systems
  4. The genomic democracy of sex
  5. Human genetic variation
  6. Gene flow and speciation
  7. Genotype-phenotype maps
  8. Developmental genomics: same genes, different animals.
  9. Genomic innovation (gene duplication and horizontal transfer)
  10. The origin of eukaryotes
  11. The evolution of selfishness (the battle between the cells and the viruses)

I hope these might be helpful to anyone interested in teaching The Society of Genes!

Itai Yanai, yanai.itai[at]


How to teach Evolution to undergraduates


At the Technion, I taught for many years a course on Evolution, of which I am very proud.

The first half introduces the main mechanisms of evolution—natural selection and genetic drift—and the second explores how evolution occurs in many topics, each of which could fill up an entire course by itself.

I’m happy to make are powerpoint slides available for everyone (links below). I think they can be used for anyone learning by themselves or setting up a similar course.

The main text is the Barton et al. Evolution book, but it is really only very loosely based upon it. There are also many influences of Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, Stephen Stearn’s Yale course, Richard Dawkins, the work of Richard Lenski, among many others. Each lecture also summarizes a chapter of Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

  1. Introduction to Evolutionary Biology – Aristotle/Lamarck/Darwin
  2. Common Descent
  3. Genetic Variation and Genetic Drift
  4. Natural Selection
  5. Measuring Natural Selection
  6. Genome Evolution
  7. Fossil Record
  8. Experimental Evolution – The Lenski Experiment
  9. Speciation
  10. Biogeography
  11. Evolution of Development
  12. Origin of Life and Sexual Selection
  13. Human Evolution

Enjoy and feel free to contact me about it.

Itai Yanai, yanai.itai[at]