Evolutionary biology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
BIO/02 BIO/05 BIO/18 BIO/19
Learning objectives
The objective of the course is to provide students with the basic knowledge of evolutionary biology, both presenting the general principles of the discipline and exploring in details theoretical problems and case studies.
Expected learning outcomes
The goal is that the student acquires knowledge and reasoning skills useful to interpret biological phenomena in the light of evolution.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The course is held in the second semester. In the event that we will still be in a phase of epidemic emergency, the lessons will be held at distance, both in synchronous and asynchronous form. About the exams, should the emergency phase continute in the next semester (i.e. form March 2021), the teachers will be ready to organise the exams according to the rules provided by the University of Milano, therefore both in the presence of the students, and at a distance, in relation to the specific requirements.
Course syllabus
Didactic unit: Introduction and general principles of evolutionism
Darwinian' evolutionism, definition and importance of the theory proposed by Darwin; The mechanisms of evolution and the forces behind the evolutionary changes of species: mutation, natural and sexual selection, genetic drift, migration, with particular attention to the processes of micro-evolution. The importance of sexual selection in the evolution of species, the weight of history, physical, morphogenetic and genetic constraints; The importance of random genetic drift; The evolution of phenotypic traits; The origin of species and ways of speciation; Molecular principles of evolution and hints of phylogeny and reconstruction of phylogenetic trees.

Didactic unit: Models and problems in evolutionary biology
The teaching unit will deal with some fundamental themes of evolutionary biology: altruism; symbiosis and evolution of interspecific relationships; punctuated equilibria and macroevolution; the role of sexual reproduction; evolution of virulence. Some topics will be treated in a historical key, with a focus on the development of evolutionary thought in the transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in the twentieth century: rediscovery of Mendel's laws, August Weismann and the germ plasm, Hugo de Vries and mutations; the Synthetic Theory; developments after the Synthesis.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of basic genetics. Recommended courses: Genetics
Teaching methods
The course is based on interactive classroom lessons supported by projected material. Student are invited to actively participate in the discussion. Course attendance is strongly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Marco Ferraguti, Carla Castellacci (ed.), Evolution. Models and processes, Pearson Italia 2011.
Nick Lane, The Inventions of Life, The Essayer, 2012.
Sadava et al. Biology, volume 3 "Evolution and Biodiversity" ed. Zanichelli

Copies of the lectures and further teaching materials will be provided, through the Ariel platform, during the course and will remain available for the entire academic year.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will be written and will include a series of both multiple-choice and open-ended questions aimed at assessing the knowledge and skills acquired by the student on the topics presented during the course.
BIO/02 - SYSTEMATIC BOTANY - University credits: 0
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 0
BIO/19 - MICROBIOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 48 hours
Educational website(s)
Upon email request
5th floor, A building, Biosciences Dept.