Course: Comparative Genomics: from evolution to function

Course coordinators

  • dr. Berend Snel (UU)
  • prof. dr. Martijn Huynen (Radboudumc)
  • prof. dr. Jaap Heringa (VU Amsterdam)


Comparative genomics between species and between types of data facilitates the understanding of what these data really reflect about the underlying biological processes. Comparative genomics therewith relies on a solid understanding of basic elements of Bioinformatics like homology and orthology. Moreover it is important to know the assumptions and heuristics of bioinformatic methods for comparative genomics and hence we aim to let participants develop an understanding of why these methods sometimes fail (or misdetect) as a consequence of a variety of biological /evolutionary causes, and in which situations which method is most appropriate. The first two days of the course provide a basis for the course with the aim to move “beyond blast” in terms of the most sensitive homology searches, domain level analysis of protein evolution as well as more fine grained definitions of relatedness as can be obtained from the proper interpretation of gene trees (i.e. various levels of orthology). This foundation is used to discuss in the three following days in more detail three topics: (1) the study of functional and evolutionary consequence of (genome) duplications, (2) the evolution of interactions and complexes and (3) the prediction and evolution of genomic regulatory elements and of RNA structures

Target audience

The course is intended for PhD students and master students in bioinformatics or geneticists and experimental biologists with a strong interest in evolution of the eukaryotes. It is especially relevant to students who want to compare various types of genomics data between species. Participants are expected to have some hands on experience with tools like blast, constructing multiple sequence alignments and phylogenetic trees, and in addition to have some familiarity with concepts such as orthology, synteny and protein domains.

Visit the course archive to find information about previously organised editions.