Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mixed population provides insights into human genetic makeup

16.02.2009
Genetic diseases and genetically mixed populations can help researchers understand human diversity and human origins according to a Penn State physical anthropologist.

"We wanted to get to a strategy to predict what a face will look like," said Mark D. Shriver, associate professor of biological anthropology. "We want to understand the path of evolution that leads to that part of the selection process."

To pinpoint genes that influence the shape of the human face and head, Shriver began with an online database of genes linked to disease -- Online Mendelian Inheritance of Man. If the symptoms of the disease involved the face or skull the gene implicated in the disease became a candidate for those facial traits.

This approach works because although Shriver looked at genes implicated in disease, those same genes in a healthy person may also influence the same physical trait -- length, width, shape, size -- but within the range normal for healthy individuals. Facial traits vary among humans, but do tend to group by population. For example, in general, West Africans have wider faces than Europeans and Europeans have longer faces than West Africans.

"There is a strong relationship between genetic ancestry and facial traits," said Shriver. "Using individuals of combined ancestry, European and African, we can see how the target genes alter facial traits," he told attendees at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The researchers looked at a combined sample of African Americans with West African and European ancestry whose genetic makeup was known through DNA testing. To make it simpler, anyone with Native American ancestry was eliminated so that only two genetic pools were represented -- West African and European. The researchers reported on a sample of 254 individuals using three-dimensional imaging and measured the distances between specific portions of the face. Each individual had provided a DNA sample.

"We started with 22 landmarks on the faces that could be accurately located in all the images," said Shriver.

These landmarks might be the tip of the nose, the tip of the chin, the outer corner of the eye or other repeatable locations. They then recorded the distances between all the points in all directions, so they had a distance map of each of the faces.

From their DNA profiles, Shriver could determine the admixture percentages of each individual, how much of their genetic make up came from each group. He could then compare the genetically determined admixture to the facial feature differences and determine the relative differences from the parental populations.

"This type of study, done on admixed populations shows that each person is a composite of their ancestors and that the range of facial features is a continuum," says Shriver.

Shriver found that there was a very strong statistical correlation between the amounts of admixture and the facial traits.

"We chose to look at African Americans because they were a large enough and available admixed population," said Shriver. "We are trying to solidify our understanding of the origins of humans and the evolutionary processes. Looking at admixed populations shows us the influence genes have and how they relate to physical features."

A'ndrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA examines newly formed Tropical Depression 3W in 3-D

26.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering

26.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>