College of Biological Science
Molecular and Cellular Biology
MBG4040: Genetics and Molecular Biology of Development (3-2) [0.5]
Fall 2016
Course description
This course provides an examination of the genetic mechanisms that underlie organismal
development. The molecular biology of cell determination and differentiation and the genetic
control of morphogenesis and pattern formation will be emphasized.
Prerequisite(s): MCB2050 or MCB3010
Teaching team
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Bendall
SCIE 3459
Office hours 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm, Wednesdays
I’m happy to meet with you at other times if you have a scheduling conflict with my regular office hours; simply
send me an email to arrange a specific time.
Laboratory Demonstrator: Ms. Marissa Dahari
Teaching Assistant: Mr. Wadood Malik
Course schedule
Lectures: Tuesday & Thursday 11:30 am – 12:50 pm ALEX 309
Laboratory: Thursday 2:30 pm – 4:20 pm SSC 4101
Learning goals and rationale
This course will provide an exploration of the genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie
the processes by which animals develop from a single cell into a multicellular organism. In
addition to being a fascinating and aesthetically pleasing subject, modern developmental biology
represents a synthesis of many of the subjects you have already studied, including cell and
molecular biology, genetics, and evolution. Thus, you will be reviewing, reinforcing, and
synthesising many of the concepts you have learned in other classes. In the context of various
model organisms, topics will include principles of developmental biology, tissue patterning,
morphogenesis, size control, cell differentiation, and organogenesis. The molecular
underpinnings of these embryological processes involve mechanisms of cell-to-cell
communication and differential gene expression and these areas will be dealt with in some detail.
Finally, the idea of the evolutionary conservation of developmental control genes will be a
common thread of this course.
Learning outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
1. Apply an advanced understanding of the major regulatory mechanisms that impact gene
expression and function
2. Demonstrate knowledge of the modalities of the major signalling pathways during vertebrate
development, including proteins that have a positive and negative effect on transduction of the
major ligand families (BMP, FGF, Hedgehog, Notch, Wnt).
3. Define discrete stages of cell fate restriction during development
4. Distinguish between cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous gene functions
5. Describe the actions of maternal gene products in Drosophila axial patterning
6. Contrast mechanisms of dorsal-ventral patterning in Drosophila and vertebrate embryos
7. Describe morphogenetic processes in the vertebrate central nervous system, skull, and limbs
and link to the action of key genes and cell types
8. Describe the guidance cues for migrating embryonic cells
9. Recognize the conservation of developmental control genes across distantly related phyla
10. Evaluate different kinds of evidence in developmental biology
11. Identify the experimental advantages of different model organisms
12. Critically assess the methodology of modern developmental biology
13. Describe and justify suitable experimental controls
Course Resources
Recommended Textbook
Scott F. Gilbert (2016) Developmental Biology, 11
edition. Sinauer Associates.
The 10
edition (2013) may also be used if you have one; page numbers will be given for both
and 10
editions, wherever possible. Copies of the 10
edition been placed on 2-hour
reserve at McLaughlin library.
Supplemental Textbooks (also on 2-hour reserve)
Lewis Wolpert, 2011. Principles of Development (4
edition) Oxford University Press
Jonathan Slack, 2006. Essential Developmental Biology (2
edition), Blackwell, Malden
Laboratory manual
Available on D2L
Primary research articles for in-class presentations
Citations will be provided ahead of time. It will be each student’s responsibility to locate these
articles using library resources.
Tentative Lecture and Laboratory Schedule
Lecture Topic
Lab exercise
Sep 8
Course introduction
Sep 13
Sep 15
Nuclear cloning and the paradigm of differential
gene expression
Differential gene expression II
No lab this week
Sep 20
Sep 22
Fates, potentials, and early development in selected
Evidence in developmental biology: the case of the
myogenic determinant
Chick development
Sep 27
Sep 29
Cell-cell communication
Signal transduction pathways in development
Chick development
Oct 4
Oct 6
Maternal axis specification in Drosophila
Segmentation & axial identity in Drosophila
AER ablation
Oct 11
Oct 13
Study Break (no lecture)
Midterm exam
Bead implantation
Oct 18
Oct 20
Axis formation in the amphibian embryo
Presentation groups 1 & 2
Limb dissection &
RNA extraction
Oct 25
Oct 27
Making the central nervous system
Presentation groups 3 & 4
RT-PCR & midterm
Nov 1
Nov 3
Neural crest
Presentation groups 5 & 6
Gel run
Nov 8
Nov 10
Development of the tetrapod limb
Presentation groups 7 & 8
Analysis of lab exp’ts
Nov 15
Nov 17
Development of the skeleton
Presentation groups 9 & 10
Lab exam (written)
Nov 22
Nov 24
RNA and development
Presentation groups 11 & 12
Nov 29
Dec 1
Stem cells biology and medicine
Evolutionary developmental biology
*Specific sections of the course textbook and identity of assigned research articles will be available on the course
D2L site on a rolling basis.
Methods of Assessment
% of final
Course activity
Learning outcomes
Oct. 13
Lect. 1-9
1-5, 10
Class presentation
on D2L
(1-8)*, 10-13
Lab exam (written)
Nov. 17
Labs 1-6
7, 10-13
Final exam
Dec. **
Lect. 1-17
Pres. 3-12
1-4, 6-11
*depending on specific paper
Important Dates
Sept. 8 (Thurs) First lecture & course introduction
Sept. 22 (Thurs) First lab
Oct. 13 (Thurs) Midterm exam, in class
Nov. 4 (Fri) Last day to drop one-semester courses (40
class day)
Nov. 17 (Thurs) Laboratory exam, during normal lab hours (room TBA)
Dec. 1 (Thurs) Last lecture
Dec. ** () Final exam, ** (room TBA)
Course and University Policies
When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement
When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or
compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and
e-mail contact, and be prepared to provide supporting documentation. See the undergraduate
calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:
The nature of the consideration will depend on the specific circumstances but a likely outcome
would be to have the final exam reweighted to include the value of the missed assessment.
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for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This
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University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment.
Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or
a short-term disability should contact the Centre for Students with Disabilities (soon to be
renamed Student Accessibility Services) as soon as possible.
For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or
see the website:
Academic Misconduct
The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity
and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and
students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to
prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the
responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their
location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment
that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and
the right to use electronic and other means of detection.
Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant
for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students
from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it.
Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an
academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.
The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar:
E-mail Communication
As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <> e-mail
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students. Course instructors are not obliged to answer course-related emails from students that do
not originate from official university student email accounts.
Drop Date
The last date to drop one-semester courses this fall, without academic penalty, is Nov. 4, 2016
(the 40
class day). For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the
Undergraduate Calendar:
Copies of out-of-class assignments
Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be
asked to resubmit work at any time.
Recording of Materials
Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be
recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or
guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further
permission is granted.
Missed lecture or laboratory material as a result of absence is your responsibility. Grades will be
assigned according to the standards outlined in the University of Guelph Undergraduate
Campus Resources
The Academic Calendar is the source of information about the University of Guelph’s
procedures, policies and regulations which apply to undergraduate, graduate and diploma
If you are concerned about any aspect of your academic program:
make an appointment with a program counsellor in your degree program. or
If you are struggling to succeed academically:
There are numerous academic resources offered by the Learning Commons including,
Supported Learning Groups for a variety of courses, workshops related to time management,
taking multiple choice exams, and general study skills. You can also set up individualized
appointments with a learning specialist.
If you are struggling with personal or health issues:
Counselling services offers individualized appointments to help students work through
personal struggles that may be impacting their academic performance.
Student Health Services is located on campus and is available to provide medical
For support related to stress and anxiety, besides Health Services and Counselling
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management and high performance situations.
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The Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD) can provide services and support for
students with a documented learning or physical disability. They can also provide information
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with the centre please see:
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