population genetics

An NSF post on Twitter this morning described an interesting study from the University of Pennsylanvia and Cornell University, that found that some people who call themselves "African Americans" may only be 1% West African, according to their DNA. The University of Pennsylvania press release contains other interesting findings as well. 365 individuals were studied and 300,000 genetic markers were examined. Some of the findings were:
  • If you're African American, the genes most likely to have an African origin are those on your
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Maybe you did it for the extra cash. Maybe you wanted to be part of the sperm cube public art project. Whatever the reason, it's possible, just possible, your sperm took on a life of it's own, once you left it. And now that a genome is no longer an entirely personal bit of information, you may be in for a surprise meeting someday, with the end result. That's right. Male adoptees are getting their DNA tested and getting information about their possible surnames. According to ... Read more
You can find out. Blaine Bettinger, the Genetic Genealogist has a fun little quiz.Read more
Genetics textbooks abound with stories of European royalty and the hazards of having children after you've married one of your cousins. It struck me as an interesting parallel that the lion is such a popular symbol in so many royal coats of arms. Like the royal families of Europe, certain lion populations have also suffered from a few too many copies of certain recessive genes. I first read about the Florida panthers a few years ago while researching material for a class that I teach on using bioinformatics. It wasn't my first encounter with ... Read more
Students at Soldan International High School are participating in an amazing experiment and breaking ground that most science teachers fear to tread. Soldan students, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, are participating in the National Geographic's Genographic Project. Through this project, students send in cheek swabs, DNA is isolated from the cheek cells, and genetic markers are used to look at ancestry. Genetic markers in the mitochondrial DNA are used to trace ancestry through the maternal line and markers on the Y chromosome can be used to learn about one ... Read more

If you've read any of the many stories lately about Craig Venter or Jim Watson's genome, you've probably seen a "SNP" appear somewhere. You may be wondering, and rightly so: just what is a SNP?

Never fear, hopefully this post will answer some of those questions.

SNP stands for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. That's a mouthful. It means some people, will have one base at a certain position, in a sequence of bases, and other people will have a different base at that position. The two forms of SNP are called "alleles." (Usually there are two forms, but that's ... Read more

Some maggots have gotten good press lately because of their helpful ability to clean out wounds by consuming dead tissue. Screwworms however; also known as Cochliomyia hominivorax, will never be welcomed in an operating room or anywhere else.
i-f899d284a70dd15ae454a65c2b7a2f3c-worms.jpg

USDA Agricultural Research Service

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i-466b1890141827e0782cfe1538fdb374-dino.jpgWe went on an excursion last weekend to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Pacific Science Center. None of us could resist going downtown to look at written texts over 2000 years old. Uncovered in 1946, by a Bedouin shepherd, the scrolls have had an interesting history over the past 50 years, most of it out of the public eye. Only recently, have a large number of scholars and members of the public ... Read more

Razib inspired me to share some of the story behind why white people are considered derivatives.

No red herrings, here! Lamason et. al. found a single gene that controls human skin color while studying pigmentation in zebra fish (1). These zebra fish had an unusual golden color that turned out to be an important clue. Lamason and collaborators found that the golden zebra fish lost their normal color because of a mutation in the slc24a5 gene. When the zebra fish have the mutant form, they produce fewer melanosomes.

A short language lesson Fewer ... Read more

Did HIV become resistant to Atazanavir because of a genetic change? Was that genetic change inherited? Did HIV evolve? Can we explain why genetic changes at specific sites might help HIV escape the effects of the drug? Let's find out. All of the sequences in the image below (except for the first) come from HIV strains that were isolated from patients who took Atazanavir and no other protease inhibitors. All of the strains of HIV from patients were resistant to the drug. If an amino acid is different from other strains, the color at that position is changed. ... Read more

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