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Lesson summary for:
Molecular genetics of color mutations in rock pocket mice


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This lesson requires students to transcribe and translate portions of the wild-type and mutant rock pocket mouse Mc1r genes and compare sequences to identify the locations and types of mutations responsible for the coat color variation described in a short film.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Grade level:

50 minutes

Teaching tips:
Use this resource to relate evolutionary concepts to the topic of DNA transcription and translation (or get more suggestions for incorporating evolution throughout your biology syllabus). Answers to the worksheet are readily available online, so if this is a concern, you may wish to do the activity in class.

Correspondence to the Next Generation Science Standards is indicated in parentheses after each relevant concept. See our conceptual framework for details.

  • There is a fit between organisms and their environments, though not always a perfect fit.

  • An organism's features reflect its evolutionary history.

  • Evolution results from natural selection acting upon genetic variation within a population.

  • New heritable traits can result from mutations.

  • Mutation is a random process.

  • Inherited characteristics affect the likelihood of an organism's survival and reproduction.

  • Over time, the proportion of individuals with advantageous characteristics may increase (and the proportion with disadvantageous characteristics may decrease) due to their likelihood of surviving and reproducing.

  • Traits that confer an advantage may persist in the population and are called adaptations.

  • Depending on environmental conditions, inherited characteristics may be advantageous, neutral, or detrimental.

Teacher background:

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