Curriculum Guideline

Environmental Genetics

Effective Date:
Course Code
BIOL 2301
Environmental Genetics
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture 2 hours per week Seminar 2 hours per week
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

This course will include two hours per week of direct lectures and two hours of seminar in which instructor and students will discuss key topics, view slide or film presentations and work on projects.  Readings will be assigned to supplement the lectures.

Course Description
This course is a study of the influence of the environment on genetic systems and the implications of genetic manipulation for the environment. The course will highlight environmental issues arising from practice and research in agriculture (e.g. monoculture, hybridization, interspecies gene transfer, cloning, gene manipulation), medicine (e.g. carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, antibiotics, disease, immunity), and other human activities.
Course Content
  1. Environmental implications of genetic practices/research in food production
    • the green revolution
    • hybridization
    • monoculture
    • genetic engineering
    • genetic implications of pest control
    • genetic mechanisms of pest control
    • hazards of new species introductions
  2. Medical Genetics and the Environment
    • genetics of disease organisms
      • bacteria
      • viruses
      • other organisms
    • implications of antibiotic use
    • genetics of drug production
    • mutation and mutagenesis
    • carcinogenesis
  3. Genetics, Industry and the Environment
    • importance of  genetic diversity
    • genes as resources
    • forest practices
    • environmental/genetic implications of atomic energy/research
  4. Environmental implications of genetic engineering
  • eugenics
  • interspecies gene transfer
  • gene modification
  • evolutionary consideration
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Describe the roles of chromosomes and genes in heredity.
  2. Describe the roles of genes and the environment in the determination of phenotype.
  3. Describe the general ways in which genetic manipulation has contributed to the development of agricultural products.
  4. Describe using examples, how genetic knowledge has been used to control agriculturally significant pests (e.g. insects) and infectious agents (e.g. viruses), and the impact of these practices on the environment.
  5. Describe the environmental implications of hybridization, monoculture, interspecies gene transfer, and other genetic manipulation.
  6. Describe the genetic and environmental implications of new species introductions to an area.
  7. Describe the human genome and identify common chromosome and gene disorders.
  8. Describe the sources of irradiation (e.g. UV x-rays) in the environment and describe their genetic significance.
  9. Describe sources of mutagenic, carcinogenic, and teratogenic chemicals in the environment and identify their known effects.
  10. Describe genetic research relating to the production and action of antibacterial and antiviral agents.
  11. Describe the epidemiological and environmental implications of the use of antibiotics and other disease limiting methodologies.
  12. Describe the evolutionary and environmental significance of genetic diversity and identify ways in which human activity threatens genetic diversity.
  13. Describe ways in which genetic diversity may be created and maintained.
  14. Describe the human and environmental implications of the control and distribution of genetic resources (e.g. gene/organism patents).
  15. Describe the origin, goals, successes, and the social and environmental implications of the human genome project.
  16. Research and write a scholarly paper on a topic of environmental genetic significance, and present a report on the research.

Means of Assessment
Class Tests (2) 30%
Essay/Poster Project 20%
Comprehensive Examination - Midterm 25%
Comprehensive Examination - Final 25%
Total 100%



Textbook Materials
  • Holden, J., Peacock, J., & Williams, T. Genes, Crops and the Environment. Cambridge University Press. UK 1993 or Current Edition
  • Various selected journal articles.

BIOL 1110 and BIOL 1210 with a C- or better, or C- or better in BIOL 1310 or permission of instructor