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Thread: Recommended books about genetics

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Recommended books about genetics

    For people on this forum who haven't studied genetics, biomedical sciences or biology, I would recommend the following books.

    The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins. It's the book that got me interested in genetics in the first place. It was published in 1976, but it isn't outdated as it deals with the idea that genes want to replicate themselves and that we (humans, animals or any life beings) are just the vehicle expressed by the genes to help them replicate themselves.




    Genome, by Matt Ridley. A great introduction to the human genome and how DNA works.




    Nature via Nurture: Genes, experience and what makes us human, by Matt Ridley. Explains how genes interact with their environment.




    The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, a masterful explanation of how sexual selection has shaped evolution, and especially human evolution. Chock-full with interesting facts.



    The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, by Richard Dawkins. A masterful history of evolution.



    Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings, by Jean Manco is the best book I know of about historical population genetics and archeogenetics. It is the main reason I did not write a book of my own, as it would have been very similar to Jean's book, except that her writing style is superior to mine. The structure of the book is chronological and she introduces the main relevant concepts in the first two chapters, clearly and eloquently explaining how DNA can be used to retrace ancestry, or how archaeology and linguistics often can and should be combined with genomics to make sense of human prehistory and ancient migrations. She rightfully warns of the dangers of not confusing pots for people - although in the first version of the book she ironically falls in that trap with the Bell Beakers, assuming that there were one homogeneous ethnic group (which I was told was corrected in this second edition). Overall the book is very well structured, well researched, clear and coherent. It is an informative and comprehensive introduction to European population history that I think everyone on this forum should read. It's a great complement to my articles, which often require a basic knowledge of prehistory and population genetics to be understood, which this book aptly provides.



    Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich. For the newbies who don't know him, David Reich is a professor of genetics at Harvard University whose lab pioneered the sequencing of large number of ancient DNA samples. He explains how he and his colleagues tested the whole genome of Neanderthals, discovered by chance a new type of archaic humans, the Denisovans, how much modern humans inherited from archaic humans and how ancient DNA revolutionised our understanding of prehistory, notably by showing that human races 5,000 to 10,000 years ago were radically different from today and that all modern populations are relatively recent blends. The book focuses mostly on how modern ethnic groups came into being and how ancient DNA made it possible to identify these 'ghost populations' from which we descend.

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  2. #2
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    An alternative to books is to take online courses (the increasingly popular MOOCS). There are several free courses about biology and genetics on Coursera and EdX. In 2014, just as the platform was getting started, I tried a few of them as I wanted to experience a class at famous American universities like Harvard, MIT, Duke or Rice (among those I tried). I recommend Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life, a course taught by famous Harvard/MIT geneticist Eric Lander (who is also the director of the Broad Institute). It was very entertaining. They explain basic concepts such as Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, linkage disequilibrium, prediction of effective population sizes, and so on.
    Last edited by Maciamo; 15-08-20 at 15:05.

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