Scheda insegnamento

Anno Accademico 2018/2019

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

At the end of the course, students will acquire knowledge on the distribution of human biodiversity all over the world and on the main adaptive processes that have influenced it by shaping patterns of phenotypic and molecular variation of human populations. In particular, it will be explored how the occupation of different and changing environments by modern humans has prompted ecological and cultural shifts that introduced novel selective pressures impacting on the human genome. Moreover, special attention will be deserved to the discussion of cases in which ecological and cultural contexts have changed so rapidly in the modern era to trigger adaptive traits previously shaped by natural selection into maladaptive ones. Accordingly, the course will also provide to the students elements useful for the understanding of the evolutionary causes of differential susceptibilities of human populations to complex diseases.


The course will present the main models developed so far for the description of the action of different typologies of natural selection on the human genome. Then it will describe patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation of modern human populations evolved in relationships with the variety of environments occupied by H. sapiens after its exit from the African continent. Finally, the most up-to-date evidence supporting the occurrence of dis-adaptive processes in present-day human populations due to rapid changes in their environmental and/or cultural contexts will be presented.

The course contents will be organized according to the following arguments:

1. Types and modes of action of natural selection on the human genome

2. Patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation of human populations

3. Adaptive processes of human populations in response to the environment

4. Dis-adaptive processes of human populations due to rapid environmental changes


Scientific articles and review papers focused on the main arguments discussed will be provided to the students during the course

Metodi didattici

Both lectures and exercises on data analyses aimed at inferring the action of natural selection on the human genome are scheduled

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

Written examination with a combination of multiple-choice and open questions

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Slides will be shared with the students at the end of each lesson

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Marco Sazzini