Molecular diagnostics for species identification and evolutionary analysis

Alternative course

This course is no longer running, but a very similar course is running in March 2019.

A one-week introductory course about molecular phylogenetic analyses.

Designed for taxonomists and ecologists at faculty, post-doc and post-graduate level, the course is taught by Museum scientists.

Taught by Museum scientists, the course will benefit taxonomists and ecologists wishing to gain expertise in molecular diagnostics and phylogenetic analysis for systematic, taxonomic and ecological studies. Please note that this course assumes no prior experience with DNA sequence analyses, as such it is not suitable for more advanced students. A general understanding of molecular and phylogenetic terminology is assumed.

Course content

This intensive course is designed to leave applicants feeling more capable of tackling independent analyses of their own data, long after the course has finished. Lectures will provide theoretical background prior to any practical applications. 

Each step, involving specific software, will be demonstrated and practiced in hands-on computer lab sessions. During computer lab sessions, we aim to have three tutors present to ensure a high level of assistance for the 12 participants. 

On the last day, participants will be able to analyse their own data or return to sections of the course of their own choice.

In addition to formal training, course participants also have the opportunity to meet and discuss their research with museum scientists.


Course participants will receive theoretical and practical training on how to: 

  • Edit raw Sanger sequence data for phylogenetic analysis (edit chromatograms, identify contamination, align sequences, remove ambiguously aligned sites)
  • Use BLAST to find sequences homologous to a query sequence using GenBank
  • Perform Bayesian/maximum likelihood analyses after choosing appropriate models
  • Interpret tree topologies and nodal support
  • Produce publication-ready trees 
  • Upload new sequences onto GenBank 
  • Assemble and annotate NGS data
  • Delimit species using DNA statistical methods

Participants will also

  • Learn about different methods for phylogenetic analysis
  • Understand some problems associated with species delimitation
  • Recognise the potential of next generation sequencing 
  • Recognise the pros and cons of different markers for systematics and barcoding

More information

Contact us

For more information about course content please contact Suzanne Williams.

For administrative questions (e.g. travel, accommodation) please contact Laura Miles.

How to apply

The course is available to taxonomists and ecologists at faculty, post-doc and post-graduate level. There are 12 spaces available, and priority will be given to those with NERC funding.

Download and complete the application form and return it to the address on the form by the closing date 1 December 2017.

Funded by