Molecular Evolution


Molecular Evolution

  • Lecturer(s) or Responsible(s): Rita Ponce and Teresa Nogueira (cE3c-FCUL)
  • Department Responsible: Departamento de Biologia Animal (FCUL)
  • Data: April 18th, 2016 to April 22nd, 2016
  • Deadline for Applications: March 18th, 2016
  • Duration: 36 hours
  • Schedule: 9h-12h30 and 14h-17h30, Monday-Thursday; 9h-13h and 14h-18h Friday
  • Nº (min, max) Students: 10 to 20
  • Location: Room 4.2.07, bloco C4, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande 1749-016 Lisboa


In this course we will explore evolutionary change at the molecular level. We will focus on the origin of genomic variability and the forces that drive the evolutionary process at molecular level, as well as origin of novel gene functions and genome organization. We will integrate the knowledge from molecular evolution to other levels, such as cell biology, physiology and the relationship of genotype to phenotype and will address several applications. Part of the course will involve the discussion of both classical and recent papers and hand-on analysis of case studies


This course can have recognition of 6 ECTs for FCUL PhD students enrolling in it as part of their first doctoral year. For FCUL PhD students only requiring 5 ECTs recognized in their specific PhD programs the last 6 hours of the course are not mandatory and the certificate will be on 'Topics in Molecular Evolution'.

Minimal formation of students: bachelor degree in Biology or related areas

Directed to: PhD or MSc students in Biology, Evolution, Ecology or related areas, postdocs and professionals working in related topics

General Plan

1. Evolution at molecular level - variability and mechanisms of evolution, Mutation and mutation rates, Genetic drift and coalescence theory, Neutral theory, Natural selection Role of Migration, and Nonrandom Mating Detection of natural selection, tests of neutrality

2. Gene and genome evolution -Rates and patterns in protein evolution, Gene duplications and evolution of multigene families, Mobile genetic elements, horizontal gene transfer Evolution of novel gene functions, Evolution of genome organization and content, Relationship between molecular evolution and phenotypic evolution,

Case study: Comparative genomics: determining core and pan genome of bacterial genomes


3. Resources and methods of analysis -Databases and database searches, Alignments Phylogenies - gene trees and species trees, Analysis of gene trees, Assigning biological function to genome sequences,

Case studies: Inferring history from DNA sequences, examples of molecular evolution in human lineage and of evolution of novel gene functions

4. Examples and applications - Evolution of HIV Evolution of resistances, Genes involved in reproductive isolation and speciation, Development of vaccines, Finding sources of epidemics



Students fees.




Free for 1st year PhD students in the Doctoral program in Biology (FCUL), Biodiversity, Genetics and Evolution (UL; UP) and Biology and Ecology of Global Changes (UL, UA); 20 € for PhD students from institutions of the PEERS network (cE3c, CFE); 100 € for FCUL Master students and unemployed; 150 € for BTI, BI and other PhD students; 200 € for professional and postdocs

How to apply

Candidates should send a short CV and motivation letter to Rita Ponce (