Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Differences In Our Genes Help Shed Light On The Big Picture Of Human History

Date:
April 30, 2009
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Scientists have developed a new tool for identifying big events in human history and pinpointing the origins of specific gene mutations. This research helps shed light on times when the human population moved close to extinction and helps scientists close in on gene mutations that make some demographic groups more likely to develop diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, among others.

By examining very small differences in people's genes, scientists from Cornell University have developed a new tool for identifying big events in human history and pinpointing the origins of specific gene mutations.

This research helps shed light on times when the human population moved close to extinction and helps scientists close in on gene mutations that make some demographic groups more likely to develop diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, among others.

"We know that many diseases are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors," said Kirk E. Lohmueller, one of the researchers involved in the work from Cornell University. "To find the genes that contribute to disease, it's very helpful to know the demographic history of the population being studied. Accurate estimates of population events help inform the search for mutations that might have been helpful and necessary for survival at the time, but no longer necessary and potentially harmful today."

In their work, Lohmueller and colleagues confirmed the existence of a major decline in European populations (called a "bottleneck") 32,500-47,500 years ago. They used computer simulations to model the expected correlation among segments of DNA containing very small genetic mutations that only involve a single letter of the genetic code (called "single nucleotide polymorphisms" or SNPs). Prior to this development, methods used to identify major population events relied on the frequency patterns of individual SNPs, while ignoring the patterns of specific groups of SNPs. This work shows that looking at groups of SNPs helps us better understand what happened long before there was a human historical record.

"When we think of the past, we often think in terms of the historical or geological records," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. "What makes this development so amazing is that it helps align these records with an emerging biological record based on our DNA. This technique can be applied to any species, making it possible for us to learn and compare the biological histories of all living creatures."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kirk E. Lohmueller, Carlos D. Bustamante, and Andrew G. Clark. Methods for Human Demographic Inference Using Haplotype Patterns From Genomewide Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism Data. Genetics, 2009 182: 217-231 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.108.099275

Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Tiny Differences In Our Genes Help Shed Light On The Big Picture Of Human History." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090429162244.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2009, April 30). Tiny Differences In Our Genes Help Shed Light On The Big Picture Of Human History. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090429162244.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Tiny Differences In Our Genes Help Shed Light On The Big Picture Of Human History." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090429162244.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Respiratory Virus Spreads To Northeast, Now In 21 States

Respiratory Virus Spreads To Northeast, Now In 21 States

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) The respiratory virus Enterovirus D68, which targets children, has spread from the Midwest to 21 states. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins