Help me learn the ABCs of A,C,T and G!
January 13, 2012 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Looking for an awesome primer on genetics! It should start somewhere around the highschool level, and continue through to some college-level material. Bonus points if it touches on some recent developments and research. Oh! And readability is key.

I recently moved onto a team that's doing some fascinating work with genetics. Yaaaay! Sadly, it's been several years since my last biology class, so I need to bring myself up-to-speed quickly.

The ideal book would start out with the very basics : "this is an allele", "this is a chromosome", that kind of thing. However, I'm a fast learner, and would like to cover some more college-level topics, especially in the area of population genetics. Ideally, I'd like a book that was written in the post-Human-Genome-Project era, and maybe even touches on some recent developments and research. Finally, readability is very important : if the writing is too dry, I'm concerned that I'll put it down and never pick it back up.

If there's no single book that fits this description, feel free to recommend a couple, but please do take into account that I have a rather demanding job, and that my time is somewhat limited.

Thank you!
posted by Afroblanco to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You can't get much more basic than Larry Gonick's excellent Cartoon Guide to Genetics. It's quick, fun, and memorable. It probably suffers from being outdated and not quite advanced enough, but worth picking up while you wait for the absolutely perfect book to come along.
posted by cosmicbandito at 12:36 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

These might be too basic, but you could check out the genetics sections of these books from the library:
*CliffsAP Biology got pretty high marks from people reviewing for major tests like DATs, MCATs, etc.
*Schaum's Outline of Biology might be worth looking into.
*Biology by Campbell & Reece is a basic biology text.
*Watch the Biology section on Khan Academy.

Also, getting an undergraduate genetics text with solutions manual might help run through some of the problems. Or asking your fellow team members for advice? Good luck!
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 1:33 PM on January 13, 2012

***DEFINITELY*** the Cartoon Guide to Genetics! Extremely well done!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:47 PM on January 13, 2012

A fellow Mefite sent this to me:
posted by brownrd at 5:34 PM on January 13, 2012

Oh no, you drank the bioinformatics kool-aid. ;)

MCAT guides to genetics are like learning the beauty of math from flashcard drills.

There are a couple aspects to this that are unlikely to be covered in the same books well, in a compelling manner.

Genomes by T.A. Brown might fit the bill. Get an older copy for $20 -- you won't need the latest greatest classroom price inflated one.

For getting a feel for population genetics and how alleles establish:

The Selfish Gene by Dawkins is eminently readable, and pretty informative. No math but very memorable, and gives you a good feel for the underlying basis of population genetics.

Population genetics drifts into straight evolutionary genetics. You may ask "well I'm working with humans on some whiz-bang genomics portal so why do I need to know anything about other species?" The problem is that much of the underlying knowledge about genes is known from rodent and other model organisms, and comes with a boatload of caveats. I haven't seen a good compelling book on this yet but a background in (at least) mammalian evolution might serve you well.
posted by benzenedream at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2012

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