A letter from our authors...

Dear colleagues,

Recent advances that allow scientists to quickly and accurately sequence a genome have revolutionized our view of the structure and function of genes as well as our understanding of evolution. A new era of genetics is underway, one that allows us to fully embrace Dobzhansky’s famous statement that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”.  Genetics: Genes, Genomes, and Evolution presents the fundamental principles of genetics and molecular biology from an evolutionary perspective informed by genome analysis. It uses genomes and the information gained from their analysis as its foundation, providing a truly contemporary approach to understanding genetics and evolution.

By using what has been learned from the analyses of bacterial and eukaryotic genomes as the basis of our book, we are able to unite evolution, genomics, and genetics in one narrative approach.  Genomic analysis is inherently both molecular and evolutionary, and we approach every chapter from this unified perspective.  Thus, rather than relying on separate chapters on genome analysis or evolutionary principles and expecting that the student can synthesize them with the principles of classical genetics, we include these as part of each topic.

Similarly, genomic studies have provided a deeper appreciation of the profound relationships between all organisms and we reflect this in our decision not to separate bacterial from eukaryotic evolution, genetics and genomics.  There are chapters in which bacterial genetics, molecular genetics or evolutionary principles are more prominent, but all chapters include and integrate these concepts.

For several years, we have used drafts of this book in the first semester of our introductory genetics and molecular biology course – a second year class – at Haverford College, a small US liberal arts institution; the book includes the topics that we are typically able to cover in one semester.   The students in this class have usually taken college-level chemistry classes but are just beginning the biology curriculum. 

The four of us have co-taught this course numerous times.  The resulting synergy has energized our efforts and allowed us to combine our broad but overlapping areas of expertise into a student-focused coherent approach to teaching modern genetics.  We have found that students who have completed our introductory genetics class have a highly integrated view of biology and a strong central framework that allows them and us to fill in more detailed information in upper level courses in the curriculum.  We feel that this integrated approach provides them with a uniquely flexible and contemporary view of genetics, genomics, and evolution – a view we hope you enjoy sharing with your students, too.

Philip Meneely
Rachel Dawes Hoang
Iruka N. Okeke
Katherine Heston