Best basic primer on genetics?

I have been primarily a lurker for some months and have learned a lot from the interactions here. I wonder if the more knowledgeable folks on the forum can do me a favor.

I am an electrical engineer by training and profession, so my biological background is sparse. Can one or more of you please direct me to what you would consider to be the best, basic presentation on genetics at a fundamental level and then perhaps a second resource that would discuss why a very recent Adam and Eve from which we all descend genetically would seem to be excluded by the genetic evidence? I hate the whole “X for Dummies” schtick since none of us here are dummies, but I am looking for a really good “Fundamentals of Genetics for Beginners” kind of thing, with a special eye toward the origins debate.



I can’t answer your question, but welcome! I’m certain that some of the local experts can point you in the right direction. :slight_smile:

1 Like

This is a great question. What have you been finding helpful @Jordan. Also great to hear from you @thepalmhq.


I would say there are two main paths you can pursue: molecular biology and population genetics. The molecular path will involve the chemistry of genetics, such as how nucleotide bases interact with one another, how DNA is copied, how RNA is made, and how proteins are made. The population genetics route will be focused on how genetics expresses itself at the level of the organism and in a population of organisms. Since you are interested in the topic of Adam and Eve, the population genetics route would probably be the one to start with. As an added bonus, there’s a lot of math in population genetics which you may find more interesting as an electrical engineer.

Perusing around the internet, I found the following website that appears to be a decent primer on population genetics:

There are multiple hyperlinks at the top of the page for different topics.

As for the specific question of Adam and Eve, it comes down to mathematical modeling of genetics in a population. With a known mutation rate, generation time, and population size you can predict what the genetic variation in a population should be, as well as other characteristics like linkage equilibrium. If you can wrap your head around the basic concepts of population genetics you will be one step closer to understanding why the evidence does not support a recent bottleneck of 2 people in the human population. As a bonus, you could also start to see how @swamidass Genealogic Adam avoids the problems of a 2 person bottleneck.


4 posts were split to a new topic: Miung’s Primer on Genetics

This is actually really good: Introduction to Genetics and Evolution | Coursera

Mohamed Noor is a former PhD student of Jerry Coyne, now a professor himself. The course is excellent, online, and free.


Second the notion. Mo also, if I recall, has a number of teaching awards.

Thanks for this. I did a Data Science “specialization” from Johns Hopkins on Coursera last year and really liked it. This looks like the next one I’ll do.