Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Interactive Map of Human Genetic History Revealed

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Study identifies, dates and characterizes genetic mixing between populations.

A global map detailing the genetic histories of 95 different populations across the world, showing likely genetic impacts of European colonialism, the Arab slave trade, the Mongol Empire and European traders near the Silk Road mixing with people in China, has been revealed for the first time.

The interactive map, produced by researchers from Oxford University and UCL (University College London), details the histories of genetic mixing between each of the 95 populations across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America spanning the last four millennia.

The study, published this week in Science, simultaneously identifies, dates and characterizes genetic mixing between populations. To do this, the researchers developed sophisticated statistical methods to analyze the DNA of 1490 individuals in 95 populations around the world. The work was chiefly funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.

'DNA really has the power to tell stories and uncover details of humanity's past,' said Dr Simon Myers of Oxford University's Department of Statistics and Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, co-senior author of the study.

'Because our approach uses only genetic data, it provides information independent from other sources. Many of our genetic observations match historical events, and we also see evidence of previously unrecorded genetic mixing. For example, the DNA of the Tu people in modern China suggests that in around 1200CE, Europeans similar to modern Greeks mixed with an otherwise Chinese-like population. Plausibly, the source of this European-like DNA might be merchants travelling the nearby Silk Road.'

The powerful technique, christened 'Globetrotter', provides insight into past events such as the genetic legacy of the Mongol Empire. Historical records suggest that the Hazara people of Pakistan are partially descended from Mongol warriors, and this study found clear evidence of Mongol DNA entering the population during the period of the Mongol Empire. Six other populations, from as far west as Turkey, showed similar evidence of genetic mixing with Mongols around the same time.

'What amazes me most is simply how well our technique works,' said Dr Garrett Hellenthal of the UCL Genetics Institute, lead author of the study. 'Although individual mutations carry only weak signals about where a person is from, by adding information across the whole genome we can reconstruct these mixing events. Sometimes individuals sampled from nearby regions can have surprisingly different sources of mixing.

'For example, we identify distinct events happening at different times among groups sampled within Pakistan, with some inheriting DNA from sub-Saharan Africa, perhaps related to the Arab Slave Trade, others from East Asia, and yet another from ancient Europe. Nearly all our populations show mixing events, so they are very common throughout recent history and often involve people migrating over large distances.'

The team used genome data for all 1490 individuals to identify 'chunks' of DNA that were shared between individuals from different populations. Populations sharing more ancestry share more chunks, and individual chunks give clues about the underlying ancestry along chromosomes.

'Each population has a particular genetic 'palette', said Dr Daniel Falush of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, co-senior author of the study.

'If you were to paint the genomes of people in modern-day Maya, for example, you would use a mixed palette with colours from Spanish-like, West African and Native American DNA. This mix dates back to around 1670CE, consistent with historical accounts describing Spanish and West African people entering the Americas around that time. Though we can't directly sample DNA from the groups that mixed in the past, we can capture much of the DNA of these original groups as persisting, within a mixed palette of modern-day groups. This is a very exciting development.'

As well as providing fresh insights into historical events, the new research might have implications for how DNA impacts health and disease in different populations.

'Understanding well the genetic similarities and differences between human populations is key for public health,' said Dr Simon Myers. 'Some populations are more at risk of certain diseases than others, and drug efficacy is also known to vary significantly. Rare genetic mutations are particularly likely to show strong differences between populations, and understanding their role in our health is an area of intense current research efforts. We hope in future to include even more detailed sequencing, to spot these rare mutations and better understand their global spread. Our method should be even more powerful when applied to these future data sets, providing rich opportunities for future work.'


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Misfiring Drugs Hit the Wrong Targets
Anti-HIV protein inhibitor drugs can bind to the wrong protein, causing unwanted side effects.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Sweet Spot of Human Immune System
Scientists propose answer to how the human immune system scales its response in proportion to threat to make it 'just right'.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
HIV Hides No Longer
Researchers are working to create proteins that clear HIV-infected cells in order to eliminate latent infection and dormancy.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Type 2 Diabetes Genetics Revealed
The largest study of its kind into type 2 diabetes has produced the most detailed picture to date of the genetics underlying the condition.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Massive Helium Discovery a "Game Changer" for Medical Industry
A new development is gas exploration has yielded the discovery of a huge helium gas field, which could help relieve the dwindling supply.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Genetic Research Can Significantly Improve Drug Development
With drug development costs topping $1.2bn (£850 million) to get a single treatment to the point it can be sold and used in the clinic, could genetic analysis save hundreds of millions of dollars?
Friday, June 17, 2016
Genes That Increase Children's Risk Of Blood Infection Identified
A team led by Oxford University has identified genes that make certain children more susceptible to invasive bacterial infections by performing a large genome-wide association study in African children.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Universal Flu Vaccine Under Development
Oxford spinout company Vaccitech has been launched with £10m seed investment to develop a universal flu vaccine already showing promise in clinical trials.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Biomarker Discovery Offers Hope For New TB Vaccine
A team of scientists led by Oxford University have made a discovery that could improve our chances of developing an effective vaccine against Tuberculosis.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Novel Collagen Fingerprinting Identifies A Neanderthal
Study from the universities of Oxford and Manchester uses ZooMS technique to identify traces of an extinct human.
Friday, April 01, 2016
Origin of a Species
A study by researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University has uncovered the key role played by a single gene in how groups of animals diverge to form new species.
Monday, February 15, 2016
HIV Keeps Growing, Even When Undetectable
A team of international researchers including scientists from Oxford University has found that HIV is still replicating in lymphoid tissue even when it is undetectable in the blood of patients on antiretroviral drugs.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Bacterial Superglue for Faster Vaccine Development
An interdisciplinary team of Oxford University researchers has devised a new technique to speed up the development of novel vaccines.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Millions at Risk of Little Known Deadly Tropical Disease
Melioidosis, a difficult to diagnose deadly bacterial disease, is likely to be present in many more countries than previously thought.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Identifying Drug Resistance Traits
Scientists have developed an easy-to-use computer program that can quickly analyse bacterial DNA from a patient's infection and predict which antibiotics will work, and which will fail due to drug resistance.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Scientific News
Big Genetics in BC: The American Society for Human Genetics 2016 Meeting
Themes at this year's meeting ranged from the verification, validation, and sharing of data, to the translation of laboratory findings into actionable clinical results.
Stem Cells in Drug Discovery
Potential Source of Unlimited Human Test Cells, but Roadblocks Remain.
Cancer Genetics: Key to Diagnosis, Therapy
When applied judiciously, cancer genetics directs caregivers to the right drug at the right time, while sparing patients of unnecessary or harmful treatments.
BGI Sequences Gingko Tree, Revealing Large, Highly Repetitive Genome
Researchers at BGI have sequenced the more than 10-gigabase ginkgo genome to find a high number of repetitive sequences as well as a number of gene clusters that appear to be involved in defense mechanisms.
Survey of New York City Soil Uncovers Medicine-Making Microbes
Microbes have long been an invaluable source of new drugs. And to find more, we may have to look no further than the ground beneath our feet.
Accelerating the Detection of Foodborne Bacterial Outbreaks
The speed of diagnosis of foodborne bacterial outbreaks could be improved by a new technique developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Making Personalized Medicine a Reality
Groundbreaking technique developed at McMaster University is helping to pave the way for advances in personalized medicine.
Scientists Identify Unique Genomic Features in Testicular Cancer
The findings may shed light on factors in other cancers that influence their sensitivity to chemotherapy.
Top 10 Life Science Innovations of 2016
2016 has seen the release of some truly innovative products. To help you digest these developments, The Scientist have listed their top picks for the year.
BioCision Forms MedCision
The new company will focus on technologies for the management and automation of vital clinical processes.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!