Category Archives: Genetics

A common variant linked to chromosomal errors

A new paper in Science (Rajiv McCoy as main author) says that there’s a genetic variant, probably in the gene PLK4, that substantially increases the fraction of embryos with screwed-up chromosomes.  Mothers with the high-risk genotypes apparently have fewer embryos … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 23 Comments

Familial Mediterranean fever

FMF is a recessive hereditary disorder caused by mutations in MEFV, the gene for the protein pyrin. Pyrin, produced in white blood cells,  inhibits inflammation, and the FMF mutations unleash inflammation to varying degrees. The disease manifests in painful inflammatory … Continue reading

Posted in Ashkenazi Jews, Evolutionary Medicine, Genetics, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Faster than Fisher

There’s a simple model of the spread of an advantageous allele:  You take σ, the typical  distance people move in one generation, and s,  the selective advantage: the advantageous allele spreads as a nonlinear wave at speed  σ * √(2s).  … Continue reading

Posted in Denisovans, Dietary adaptations, European Prehistory, Evolutionary Medicine, Genetics, Indo-European, Linguistics, Neanderthals, Skin color | Tagged | 72 Comments

The Greatest Generation

When you compare our trifling selves with the generation that landed in Normandy, invented the atomic bomb, and wrote The Big Sleep, it doesn’t look good. You could easily get the impression that the United States went straight from a … Continue reading

Posted in Genetics | 108 Comments

Centum and Satem

I may well be wrong, but there’s no point in waiting until they dig up and sequence every last body in Eurasia. Time to stick my neck out. Here’s my current best guess concerning the Indo-European expansion: It all started … Continue reading

Posted in Dietary adaptations, European Prehistory, Genetics, Indo-European, Linguistics | Tagged , , , | 99 Comments

Yamna and Corded Ware

I hear some interesting things from the recent ASHG conference, mostly from Razib Khan. It seems that the dead have spoken again: it turns out that the genetic transition in northern Europe  coincides with the advent of the Corded Ware/Battleaxe … Continue reading

Posted in European Prehistory, Genetics, Genghis -Khan effect, Indo-European | 45 Comments

Ketosis as a way of life

There’s a new article out in ASHG that discusses a regional selective sweep in CPT1A, carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A, which plays an essential role in fatty acid metabolism. A mutation has become extremely common, with a gene frequency > 50%, in … Continue reading

Posted in Dietary adaptations, Eskimo, Genetics | Tagged | 64 Comments