Evo-Ed: Integrative Cases in Evolution Education

Cases for Evolution Education

Pea Taste

The common field pea (Pisum sativum) is one of the first plants to be domesticated as a crop, dating back to the Neolithic agricultural revolution, 10,000 BCE. It is the same species that Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, used in his experiments when he discovered the laws of genetic inheritance.

Wrinkled peas are sweeter than round peas because they contain more sugar and less starch. The increase in sugar content leads to more water retention causing the peas to wrinkle when they dry. This case will examine the evolution of the wrinkled pea from its ancestral round pea shape.

Peas in a pod
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Question Guide

Mendel to Molecules

Mendel’s work on inheritance in pea plants lead to the first description of genetics. Our modern day understanding of genes, alleles and proteins builds the theory behind Mende's observations.

Cell Biology

Wrinkled peas have more sugar than round peas because they do not have a functional starch branching enzyme that is required in starch formation.

Molecular Genetics

In wrinkled peas there is an insertion mutation in the middle of the starch branching enzyme gene that renders the starch branching enzyme non-functional. This results in two different alleles: R and r.

Population Genetics

The recessive wrinkled trait was fixated in ancient populations due to artificial selection by farmers. Creating a population with a fixated recessive trait is easier than you may think.