Biology Conflicts & Mechanisms (BIOL4930/BIOL5930)
The course is designed to introduce a functional and evolutionary perspective of biological conflicts. Conflicts are the common feature of life; they can be observed between organisms belonging to the same or different species, between multiple genomes in the same cell (e.g. between plasmids and viruses and the cellular genome), or even between intra-genomic selfish elements (transposon) and their host genomes. These conflicts lie at the heart of species interactions including self-defense, symbiotic mutualism, parasitism, predation, and many other ecological and genetic behaviors. In this course, I will provide a comprehensive introduction to various facets of biological conflicts, their molecular mechanisms and evolution. Biological systems that will be discussed include toxin-antitoxin systems, antibiotics and antibiotic-resistance mechanisms, CRISPR, polymorphic toxin systems, immune systems, restriction-modification systems, epigenetic genomic DNA modifications, and many other systems involved in eukaryotic conflicts. I will use these systems to demonstrate how species or genomic elements interact, how new organisms or biological processes are established, and how diseases/disorders are developed during conflicts. The course will also cover some basics of evolution, genomics, protein structure analysis, and available bioinformatics tools for helping students to tackle their own specific questions.