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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2010 - 2011

Module Title Comparative Genomics & Developmental Biology
Module Code BE310
School School of Biotechnology

Online Module Resources

Module Co-ordinatorDr Mary O'ConnellOffice NumberX215
Level 3 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Module Aims

The Comparative Genomics section of this module will introduce students to the field of comparative genomics and its many applications. This module will follow the flow of comparative genomic analyses from biological database through to statistical and mathematical models of analyses of data from sequence databanks and micro.  Arrays with the aim of understanding the patterns and signals present.

The Developmental Biology section of this module aims to introduce the basic concept of how a single fertilised egg gives rise to a multicellular organism. The module will focus on the general principles of development identified in a few key model organisms and how these principles can be applied to other organisms in a bid to understand animal development.

Learning Outcomes

The Students will learn the importance of comparative genomics and its applications to molecular biology and genetics. Student will have a clear understanding of: Theory and history of comparative genomics, major comparative genomic methods including:

  • sequence alignment - both pairwise and multiple
  • probability and statistical analysis of sequence alignments
  • sequence similarity searching
  • phylogeny reconstruction; and microArray analysis - statistical and clustering methods

Students will learn why a small number of model organisms are used to study development due to their convenience amenable to experimental manipulation or genetic analysis. An overview of the basic stages of development: fertilisation, cleavage, gastrulation, neurulation and organogenesis.

The following key developmental concepts will be covered:

  • cell fate
  • determination and specification
  • genetic control and gradients (morphogens)
  • pattern formation - body plan, polarity, germ layers, morphogenesis, cell differentiation; and the role of maternal factors

Indicative Time Allowances
Lectures 24
Seminars 51
Independent Learning Time 0

Total 75
Assume that a 5 credit module load represents approximately 75 hours' work, which includes all teaching, in-course assignments, laboratory work or other specialised training and an estimated private learning time associated with the module.

Indicative Syllabus
  • Introduction to Comparative Genomics, key concepts including homology, orthology and paralogy.
  • Major comparative genomic methods will be dealt with in detail, including Pairwise and multiple alignment methodologies, Probability and Statistical Analysis of Sequence alignments, Databases and mining, Phylogeny reconstruction and problem solving, MicroArray Analysis statistics and clustering methodologies.
  • A brief history of developmental biology.
  • Early key experiments and milestones.
  • Introduction of model organisms such as Xenopus, zebrafish, chick,mouse, Drosophila andC. elegans.
  • Basic stages of development: comparison of model organisms.
  • Focus on Drosophila lifecycle and development.
  • Drosophila developmental genetics- establishmentof body plan: anterior-posterior axis, dorsal-ventral axis.
Continuous Assessment0% Examination Weight100%
Indicative Reading List


Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution, Paul C. Higgs and Teresa K. Attwood

Genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics, 2nd edition, Campbell and Heyer.Developmental Biology, 7th edition, Scott F. Gilbert.

Principles of Development, 3rd edition. Lewis Wolpert.

Essential Developmental Biology, 2nd edition, J.M.W. Slack.Plus recently published periodicals.

Programme or List of Programmes
BSSAStudy Abroad (DCU Business School)
BSSAOStudy Abroad (DCU Business School)
ECSAStudy Abroad (Engineering & Computing)
ECSAOStudy Abroad (Engineering & Computing)
GCBBSc in Genetics & Cell Biology
HMSAStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
HMSAOStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
SHSAStudy Abroad (Science & Health)
SHSAOStudy Abroad (Science & Health)