This is the blog for GW students taking Human Evolutionary Genetics. This site is for posting interesting tidbits on: the patterns and processes of human genetic variation;human origins and migration; molecular adaptations to environment, lifestyle and disease; ancient and forensic DNA analyses; and genealogical reconstructions.

GWHEG figure

GWHEG figure

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Short and overweight? Blame it on your ancestors

Height is of course controlled by countless genetic, environmental and social factors, but a study recently published in the journal Science reports one of the strongest genetic effects on height.

According to the study, ancestors of the Inuit from Greenland developed a unique ability to metabolize fatty acids, including omega-3 fats. Extreme environmental conditions would have created important selective pressures on the first inhabitants of the Arctic.

Present in almost 100% the individuals studied, the genetic adaptation observed mostly on chromosome 11, would have consequences on the Inuits' height and weight. Regulation of growth hormones is linked to a person's fatty acid profile and the participants of the study who carried both copies of the alleles were reported to be about two centimeters shorter and 10 pounds lighter than those who didn't.

In addition to sequencing the DNA of Inuits, the authors studied Chinese and Europeans (Greenland was colonized by Denmark), which all had much lower occurrences of this genetic variant (15% and 2% respectively).

Fish oil supplements and omega-3 pills might be obsolete: different diets affect people differently!

(P.S. Nutritional genomics is a thing)

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