Google Play icon

Natural selection still at work in people

Share
Posted April 18, 2018

Evolution has shaped the human race, with University of Queensland researchers finding signatures of natural selection in the genome that influence traits associated with fertility and heart function.

A team, led by Professor Jian Yang and Dr Jian Zeng from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience  and Queensland Brain Institute , developed a statistical method to examine the effect of DNA mutations, or variants, on genetic architecture.

“In natural selection, or ‘survival of the fittest’, characteristics that improve survival are more likely to be passed on to the next generation,” Professor Yang said.

Professor Jian Yang. Credit: The University of Queensland

“The opposite also occurs, when DNA mutations with a detrimental effect on fitness are less likely to be passed on, by a process called negative selection.

Professor Yang said the team found evidence of negative selection on DNA variants associated with a number of traits.

“Among the strongest associations was with traits related to cardiovascular function, such as waist-to-hip ratio, with excess fat around the waist thought to increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” he said.

Dr Zeng said the most significant negative selection of DNA mutations was related to reproductive function, such as age at menopause.

“We found genetic variants associated with fertility seem to have undergone the strongest selection compared to those associated with other traits, likely because of the strong correlation between fertility and genetic fitness,” Dr Zeng said.

“Negative selection prevents ‘bad’ mutations from spreading through the population, meaning that common DNA variants are likely to have small or no effect on traits.

“This study will help us better understand the genetic basis of complex traits and inform the design of future experiments in complex traits and medical genomics.”

The researchers used genetic samples from 126,545 unrelated individuals of European ancestry in the UK Biobank.

Source: The University of Queensland

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
83,316 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. Bright Fireball Explodes Over Ontario, Meteorite Fragments Might Have Reached the Ground (August 5, 2019)
  2. Why older people smell the way they do? Japanese have even a special word for it (August 4, 2019)
  3. Terraforming the Surface of Mars with Silica Aerogel? (July 23, 2019)
  4. Moisturizers May Be Turning Your Skin Into ‘Swiss Cheese’ (2 days old)
  5. Swarm Autonomy Tested in Second Major DARPA OFFSET Field Experiment (August 8, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email