By inspecting real DNA sequences derived from human blood samples, students acquire the skill to predict whether an individual will be susceptible or resistant to malaria. This exercise provides a simple example of adaptive evolution illustrated at the molecular level. It also clarifies the underlying molecular pathology of sickle cell anemia. The identity of the relevant gene (beta Globin) is revealed to the students by BLAST analysis. Follow up questions discuss codon usage, sequence variants (alleles), the chemical properties of amino acids, primary secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins and the structure and function of hemoglobin and the generation of mutations via errors in DNA replication.
Very relevant to AP-Bio genetics sections