Phil Gibson Discusses Dog Genomics Resources
I am a professor in the Department of Biology and the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology at the University of Oklahoma, where I teach one of the large introductory biology courses for life science majors. Because I teach a large, diverse group of students from different backgrounds and with different interests, I try to use examples that both cover essential topics and have broad appeal to students. Over the years, I have found that research involving dogs and other canines can typically do both for a majority of students.
There is a rich body of literature on research investigating evolution using dogs as a general example and studies specifically investigating canine evolution. Because we know the specific lineages of different breeds of dogs and have identified a range of different genetic markers for their traits, modules involving the molecular genetics of dogs, such as the “Mapping Genes to Traits in Dogs Using SNPs” activity, can help students understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype, as well as how researchers can use genetic data to answer different questions. (For more implementation suggestions, check out the Educator Voices article “Using Gene Mapping to Introduce the Chi-square Test of Independence.”)
BioInteractive video resources, such as the “Dog Breeding” video clip and the Dog Genomics and Dogs as Model Organisms science talk, can help bring these ideas to life, again using canine examples. These BioInteractive resources can then be combined with case studies available from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. “Not Necessarily on Purpose: Domestication and Speciation in the Canidae Family” engages students in further considerations of how dogs were domesticated from canine ancestors. Another case study, “Breeding Belyaev’s Pets: Domestication, Evolution, and the Farm-Fox Experiment,” shows how research on foxes has allowed scientists to test different hypotheses about where our canine companions came from.
Phil Gibson is a professor at the University of Oklahoma, where he enjoys teaching his students that learning a little botany never hurt anyone and is probably good for them in the long run. When he’s not thinking about new case studies, he enjoys walking his dog, listening to music, growing irises, and cooking outrageously large breakfasts on the weekends.
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