The molecular basis of evolution is an important and challenging concept for students to understand. In a previous article, we provided some of the scientific background necessary to teach this topic. This article features a series of laboratory activities demonstrating that molecular events can alter the genomes of organisms. These activities are most appropriate for undergraduate students in Honors Biology, Genetics, or Molecular Biology courses. Student laboratory instructions are included to allow students to conduct the activities, make observations, interpret the results, and draw conclusions.
The molecular basis of evolution is an important concept to understand but one that students and teachers often find challenging. This article provides training and guidance for teachers on how to present molecular evolution concepts so that students will associate molecular changes with the evolution of form and function in organisms. Included are examples that illustrate how mutation followed by selection causes populations to evolve. Next month we will share lab activities that illustrate the concepts and reinforce the complementary roles of mutation and selection in the overall process of evolution.