Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Biological Sciences
OfferedClayton Second semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Heather Verkade


The development of multicellular organisms from a single cell is a triumph of evolution. This unit explores how genes control the unfolding of the body plan following fertilization. It covers the genetic control of patterning and how cells acquire identities and become different from each other and become organised into organs. It includes the genetic control of fundamental cellular processes that enable cells to communicate with each other and the environment, to differentiate from each other, and to move. A comparative approach is used, based on model organisms including Arabidopsis, C. elegans, Drosophila and the zebrafish. The exciting current area of evolution of developmental processes or "evo devo" is included.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe the genetic principles that underlie development and explain how these have evolved to generate the many different types of organisms;

  1. Explain the application of modern molecular genetic techniques to the analysis of development in a range of model organisms such as C elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish and Arabidopsis;

  1. Illustrate the impact of transgenesis and microscopy on our capacity to investigate cellular and developmental processes;

  1. Demonstrate high-level skills in data collection, analysis and interpretation, and data presentation, and apply these in the preparation and presentation of scientific reports;

  1. Critically evaluate and summarise new discoveries from the scientific literature in developmental and cellular genetics.


Examination (3 hours): 60%
Mid-semester test: 10%
Practical reports, problem solving exercises and written assignment: 30%

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

5-6 hours per week (Two lectures and one lecture/tutorial session per week for 12 weeks. One 3-hour practical session per week for 8-9 weeks.)