One Genetic Risk Factor for Severe Respiratory Distress from COVID-19 Derives from Neanderthals

Several days ago, Carl Zimmer, wrote a piece on a curious segment of the human genome, spanning 6 genes on Chromosome 3. This segment is unique in that 63% of Bangladeshi's carry at least one copy, and about 1/3 of of South Asians carry this variant. In Europe, only 8% of people carry this segment,... Continue Reading →

A Modern Human Genetic Adaptation for Diving

The Bajau people of Indonesia are known as "Sea Nomads," because we've known that for thousands of years they live in houseboats, sustaining their diets after spending hours each day hunting fish or other sea creatures underwater. Bajau divers can spend up to 13 minutes free diving to 70 m depths underwater all with only... Continue Reading →

Five Neanderthal Genomes Tell Us More Than Ever

We've been quite limited by our ancient DNA of Neanderthals due to limited sample size from the fossil record and then compounded with degradation and contamination of DNA. Last week, Nature, published a fantastic article ultimately from Svante Pääbo and Janet Kelso on a novel way to extract more DNA from less fossil sample; using... Continue Reading →

Denisovans & Modern Humans Introgressed At Least Twice

Sharon Browning and colleagues published a paper in Cell last week that shows there are uniquely different Denisovan genomes in the DNA of East Asian individuals, indicating that interbreeding with Homo sapiens happened in two independent episodes. See we already knew Aboriginal genomes from Australia and Papua New Guinea contain fragments of Denisovan DNA. Introgression of... Continue Reading →

The Genetics of Inuit Cold Weather Adaptation

A new study in the journal Molecular Biology & Evolution analyzed the genomes of nearly 200 Inuits, looking particularly at TBX15/WARS2 alleles that affect body fat distribution. They compared these alleles to other people, as well as prehistoric populations like the Neanderthals and one Denisovan. Their comparative analysis identified unique alleles within these loci that... Continue Reading →

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