University of Cambridge   Department of Biological Anthropology
An inter-disciplinary approach for identifying evolutionary active regions in the human genome. ERC Starting Investigator grant FP7 – 261213


 

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ERC Starting Investigator grant FP7 – 261213

 

An inter-disciplinary approach for identifying evolutionary active regions in the human genome.

Over the past 100,000 years humans have dispersed globally and been repeatedly challenged to cope with the diverse range of natural environments and climate of our planet. The economic and cultural shifts from a non-sedentary lifestyle to a food producing and settled way of life in the last 10,000 years have further exposed us to a range of new diets and diseases related to increased population densities. In view of such major changes in the human environment, shifts brought about both by new lands, new socio-economic systems and changing climate, this project asks the question - How adapted to their environment are humans today?

In order to answer this question, we use genetic evidence to reveal which parts of our genome have experienced the highest degree of change recently, thus showing us the way to identify those aspects of our biology that have been, or still are, most maladapted to our modern environments.

The project will focus on three major aspects of human adaptation

– natural environment (cold, high altitude, pathogens)

– diet

– lifestyle

To explore these, the project focuses on four areas of the world – North Asia (Siberia), Southeast Asia, Madagascar and Andes. For each of these areas, it will compare past and present environments, history of population dispersals, and contrast the patterns of phenotypic and genomic diversity in the populations living there today. We use a combination of whole genome genotyping and sequencing approaches to generate the data on which various selection tests and analyses of demographic history will be applied systematically.

 


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