Credits: 3

Terms Offered: Spring

Instructor: Guillaume Pilot, Zhijian Tu

Prerequisites: An undergraduate degree in the life sciences (e.g. plant or animal science, biochemistry, microbiology, biology) that includes advanced coursework in molecular biology, genomics, and/or biochemistry. This is an advanced, graduate-level course in molecular biology, and is not suitable as a entry-level course for students with no prior coursework in this subject. We will assume previous course exposure to DNA biochemistry, the processes of DNA replication and macro-molecular biosynthesis, and to fundamental aspects of gene regulation.


Graduate level introduction to techniques in molecular biology and their application to research involving plants and animals. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to describe the techniques of recombinant DNA technology and analysis of gene expression and be able to understand the application of these tools to basic and applied questions in eukaryotic molecular biology and genomics.

Lecture Topics

  • Nucleic acids and the structural basis of genetic information
  • DNA as genetic material, replication, repair and recombination
  • Manipulation of DNA
  • Cloning vectors and DNA libraries
  • Hybridization: Southern and library screening
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): different strategies and applications
  • DNA sequencing, methods and strategies
  • Sequence analysis: introduction to online bioinformatics tools
  • Genomes and genome projects
  • The concept of systems biology
  • Genetic manipulation of animals and transformation vectors
  • Transformation vectors and applications
  • Gene therapy and gene trap
  • Animal cloning by nuclear transfer
  • Hot topics/Paper discussion
  • Model Organisms
  • Eukaryotic transcriptional control
  • Transcript analysis
  • RT-PCR, reporter genes
  • Promoter analysis
  • Transcript profiling
  • DNA microarrays
  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation
  • Protein expression systems
  • Western blotting, Antibodies
  • Yeast interaction traps
  • Transgenic plants
  • Gene silencing
  • Forward and Reverse genetics
  • Map-based cloning
  • Selected "Hot Topics" drawn from recent literature


  • No textbook, lectures will be based on assigned primary research articles and review papers.
  • Suggested supplemental references include:
    1. From Genes to Genomes, by Dale and Schantz, 2002.
    2. NCBI has several free searchable textbooks online. The books by Brown, Lodish et al., Alberts et al., and Griffiths et al. are especially relevant.