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Evolutionary Cell Biology

This course provides a rigorous and comprehensive introduction to the emerging interdisciplinary field of evolutionary cell biology, which provides an evolutionary framework for the origin and development of cellular structures, processes and functions. This course includes, but is not limited to, the following topics: origin of cells, genetic mechanisms of cellular evolution, evolutionary scaling laws, evolution of cellular structures, energetics and metabolism, information processing, and the evolution of organismal complexity. This course is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduate students studying the life sciences that have completed at least one course in evolutionary biology and one course in cell biology.

Course materials (readings, lectures and video recordings) are open to collaborators and others interested in evolutionary cell biology. If you are interested in learning more about the course, please email Michael Lynch ([email protected]) or Victor Chai ([email protected]).

Lecture recordings

The video lectures are available on the following playlist or you may explore videos alongside their readings in the course schedule below.

Course schedule

Theme 1: Introduction to evolutionary cell biology
Class sessionReadingLectureRecording
1Evolutionary Cell BiologyView slidesWatch
2The Origin of CellsView slidesWatch
3The Major Lines of DescentView slidesWatch
Theme 2: The genetic mechanisms of evolution
Class sessionReadingLectureRecording
4The Population-Genetic EnvironmentView slidesWatch
5Evolution as a Population-Genetic ProcessView slidesWatch
6Evolution of Cellular ComplexityView slidesWatch
Theme 3. Basic cellular features
Class sessionReadingLectureRecording
7The Cellular EnvironmentView slidesWatch
8Evolutionary Scaling Laws in Cell BiologyView slidesWatch
9Cell Growth and DivisionView slidesWatch
10The Cell Life CycleView slidesWatch
11Cellular SenescenceView slidesWatch
Theme 4. Structural evolution
Class sessionReadingLectureRecording
12The Protein WorldView slidesWatch
13MultimerizationView slidesWatch
14Protein ManagementView slidesWatch
15Lipids and MembranesView slidesWatch
16Cytoskeleton, Cell Shape, and MotilityView slidesWatch
Theme 5. Energetics and Metabolism
Class sessionReadingLectureRecording
17The Costs of Cellular FeaturesView slidesWatch
18Resource Acquisition and HomeostasisView slidesWatch
19Enzymes and Metabolic PathwaysView slidesWatch
Theme 6. Information processing
Theme 7. Organismal complexity
Class sessionReadingLectureRecording
23EndosymbiosisView slidesWatch
24Origins of Organismal ComplexityView slidesWatch