Biology

Reviewed by Christy Fillman, Senior Instructor, CU Boulder on 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 4

I am writing this review of the genetics unit from Biology 2e (chapters 11-17) in the context of potentially using this book for an introductory level, one semester genetics course for majors. Note: I have not yet used this book in a class. I think this book has is comprehensive for a general biology textbook, but it lacks some depth and breath for a genetics class. Mendelian genetics and non-mendelian traits, DNA replication and repair and mitosis and meiosis I believe are covered adequately for a genetics class, but I think to use this book for a genetics class many outside resources would also need to be used (epigenetics, modern bioinformatics and next generation sequencing, genetic testing, ethics, and CRISPR-cas are some examples). I found the index and glossary complete; it was easy to find topics of interest and the completeness of the topics matched my expectations from the index.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The content appears to be accurate. The figures are simplistic, which for some topics is helpful like meiosis, but in other cases I think more details in the figure would be helpful. For example, the figure depicting Southern blotting (17.6) does not show how the probes hybridize (why you get a band rather than a smear) though it is described in the text. But overall regardless of the depth of information in the figures; they appear accurate.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

Much of the genetics content that I would use from this book is sort of timeless in that it hasn’t changed in many years and is unlikely to change in the near future (meiosis, mitosis, mendelian genetics). These topics are presented in similar ways in most genetics and biology textbooks and haven’t changed much in the years that I have been teaching. However, modern genetics is a rapidly changing field and many of those topics (listed below) are either not included or not included in depth. These topics including sequencing, genomics and genomics techniques, epigenetics and genome editing. Some of these topics, for examples DNA sequencing, only Sanger sequencing has a figure and next generation sequencing is described in a few sentences.

Clarity rating: 5

I liked the clarity of this text. Topics are explained simply in shorter rather than longer paragraphs, and details that often bog down longer texts are omitted. However, some topics at least for a genetics class, I believe do not have enough detail (examples gene expression, sequencing).

Consistency rating: 5

The genetics section of this book appears to be consistent. The figures have an overall similar look and parts of them are colored the same way for consistency for example the homologous chromosomes (blue and red).

Modularity rating: 5

The genetics section in particular seems to be modular. I did not find references to other sections of the book, and these chapters could be used without the rest of the text.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

I think the modularity of this book helps with the flow. Chapters can be taken out of order. For example, I would introduce DNA structure, replication, central dogma and gene expression (chapters 14-16) before classical genetics (chapter 12), and I think that would work fine with the way this text is written.

Interface rating: 3

I found the online interface difficult to use, because the pages load slowly and only one section of a chapter was visible on the page at a time. As I was looking through a chapter, I kept needing to load the next section and could not see the entire chapter at once. The table of contents is not available on each page, so navigation other than directly forward or backward is difficult. I also did not find an easy way to highlight or make notes in the online version, which are features often available in commercial online texts. I used the PDF version to read/review this text and that avoided many of the problems with the online version, and highlighting and notes are available on many free PDF readers.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I did not notice grammatical errors in the text or figures.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

I did not notice cultural insensitive in this book; it includes mention of women scientists (Figure 14.16 Elizabeth Blackburn, telomerase) and discussion some genetic disease that occur more frequently in particular populations.

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