Genetics is at the forefront of advancements in medicine, science, technology, agriculture … and the list goes on! The Certificate of Genetics is ideal for those who work in genetic enhancements, law, forensics, the health sector, or those with some knowledge of biology who would like to learn more about their own health.
When you study genetics courses, you will gain insights into the universal principles, complications and possibilities of DNA-based life. You will study the scope, nature and history of genetics, the theories of Darwin and Mendel, cells, organelles and cell division, and the interaction between chromosomes and the interaction between genes.
You will also learn about mutations, genetic chemistry, DNA repair, recombination and developmental, and population and applied genetics.
Outcomes achieved if you study genetics courses include:
- Learning about the scope, nature and history of genetics
- Exploring Darwin’s evolution theories
- Studying Mendel’s experiment, Law of Segregation and Law of Independent Assortment
- Gaining insights into genetics terminology
- Understanding cells, organelles and cell division
- Learning about prokaryotes, eukaryotes and cell structure and function
- Exploring organelles in plants and animals – plasma membrane, cytoplasm, ribosomes etc.
- Studying the nucleus, nuclear envelope and nucleolus
- Gaining insights into DNA, cell division, DNA replication and the four stages of mitosis
- Understanding cytokinesis, gametogenesis, gametes, and meiosis
- Learning about the interaction between chromosomes
- Exploring sex determination, sex chromosomes and sex-linked inheritance
- Studying haemophilia and colour blindness
- Gaining insights into linkage, crossing over, linked genes and genetic mapping
- Understanding the interaction between genes
- Learning about traits, gene expression, polygenic inheritance, gene interactions and epistasis
- Exploring enhance, suppressor and lethal genes
- Studying incomplete dominance and co-dominance
- Gaining insights into a cytoplasmic inheritance
- Understanding gene expression, transcription and translation
- Learning about genetic chemistry
- Exploring nucleic acids, DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) Structure and the Double-Stranded Helix
- Studying chromosomes, chromatin and chromatids
- Gaining insights into the genetic code, the role of proteins and transcription and translation
- Understanding post-translational modification
- Learning about introns and exons
- Exploring chromosome mutations, insertion, inversion, deletion, duplication and translocation
- Gaining an understanding of nondisjunction, gene mutations, point mutations and point substitution mutation
- Studying frameshift, silent, missense nonsense and spontaneous mutations
Genetics in Human Health
When you study genetics courses you will gain insights into how genetics research has lead to an understanding of what causes disease, the diagnosis of diseases and genetic screening to identify populations that are of risk from a specific genetic disorder.
One example of advances in science can be illustrated by the research done by the Public Health Genomics team at Monash University. They have developed a new genomic risk score, known as a polygenic risk score – or PRS – for skin cancer (melanoma), which is particularly of value for predicting melanoma risk in older people.
The research team used results from the world’s largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of melanoma. It revealed 56 different genetic variants associated with melanoma — many more than were previously known.
An individual’s genomic risk of developing melanomas may be influenced by numerous genetic changes across their DNA. In isolation, they may not show a strong effect but collectively can cause a sharp increase in risk. A PRS is a new way of aggregating the effects of these many genetic changes into a single, easily understandable risk score.
In terms of the older population, the role of genetics has significant clinical relevance. This is because advancing age is associated with poorer survival rates, thicker melanomas and greater recurrence risk.
Historically, visual assessments like skin checks have guided melanoma risk prediction, but the genomic risk is increasingly being used in conjunction with other measures to improve risk prediction.
Other Uses of Genetics
Everything from horticulture and agriculture to the veterinary industry is being impacted by our rapidly developing understanding of genetics. And there is no doubt that the knowledge you gain when you study genetics courses, will lay a great foundation for many business and employment opportunities over the coming years. These include in the areas of:
Farm Animal Breeding
Selective breeding in farm animals is centred around identifying the most desirable characteristics and breeding from animals that display them. Traits essentially fit into five basic categories:
- Fitness – these are usually linked to reproduction such as gestation length, litter size, conception rate, and the survival rates of the young.
- Production traits – these include growth rate, milk yield, feed efficiency and with poultry, the number of eggs produced.
- Quality traits – these include the level of fat, carcass composition and meat and milk quality.
- Type traits – these include physical appearance such as udder shape, coat colour, and the number of teats in pigs.
- Behavioural traits – these include herding ability in sheepdogs, temperament and mothering ability.
Whereas the main objective of a farm animal breeding program is to improve performance, breeding programs for pedigree cats and dogs and other pet animals centres on how they look in terms of the phenotype.
Pedigree dog breeding in particular is big business and can generate significant amounts of money for the breeder. However, in recent years, it has come under heavy criticism as one of the consequences of breeding for specific traits that affect appearance is that other genes may also be selected that are detrimental to a dog’s health and welfare. For example, in the past, pugs and King Charles Spaniels have been bred with shortened noses that led to breathing problems.
Plant breeding has been practised for thousands of years. It is essentially the manipulation of plant species in order to create desired phenotypes and genotypes for specific purposes.
Classical plant breeding uses the planned crossing of closely or distantly related individuals to produce new crop lines or varieties with desirable properties. These may include shape, colour, disease resistance or potential yield in crop-producing plants. Plants are crossbred to introduce traits and genes from one variety or line into a new genetic background. These days, this manipulation may also involve genetic engineering or controlled pollination or both, followed by the artificial selection of progeny.
Plant breeding is now practised worldwide by commercial enterprises and government institutions as it is believed that breeding new crops is important for ensuring food security through the development of crops suitable for their environments such as in drought conditions or warmer climates.
5 Fascinating Facts About Genes
Humans are known to have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes and when you study genetics courses, you will gain insights into how these small segments of DNA make us who we are. However, here are some facts that will up the inspirational ante!
- The word “gene” wasn’t coined until the 20th century. Although Gregor Mendel was considered the “father of genetics”, it wasn’t until 1909 that Danish botanist Wilhelm Johannsen became the first person to describe Mendel’s individual units of heredity as “genes”.
- On a genetic level, humans are more than 99 per cent identical. The diversity we see within the human population (including traits like height, blood type and eye colour) are due to genetic differences that account for less than one per cent.
- Genes can break or disappear as species evolve. For example, humans lost hundreds of odorant receptors (which are proteins produced by genes that detect specific smells) over time because we rely mostly on vision. This explains why our sense of smell is worse than many other species.
- DNA testing kits can’t tell how smart you are. Intelligence is a complex trait that’s difficult to measure because it is influenced by many different genes. One 2017 study identified 52 genes associated with higher or lower intelligence, but the ability to tell how smart you are is less than five per So no DNA testing kit can accurately predict intelligence, and they also don’t account for the environmental factors that influence intelligence.
- Our genes might prevent us from getting too old. Despite advances in medicine, there is a biological cap on how long humans can survive. Several studies have shown that the maximum extent for human life falls between 115 and 125 years. According to this theory, it is because cells can only replicate so many times and they often become damaged with age. And even if we were able to modify our genes via gene therapy, we probably couldn’t modify them fast enough to make much of a difference anyway.
Gain knowledge in the fundamentals of genetics, including cellular function, traits, heritability and characteristics when you study genetics courses like our Certificate of Genetics.