Genomes from Asia
To date, human genetic studies have focused largely on Europeans, which has limited the diversity of individuals represented in the genetic data sets. With a plan to sequence and analyse the genomes of 100,000 Asian individuals, the GenomeAsia 100K project aims to play a major part in plugging that gap. In this week’s issue, the consortium presents the data from the pilot phase of the project: a whole-genome reference data set from 1,739 individuals of 219 population groups and 64 countries across Asia. The researchers use the data to catalogue genetic variation, population structure and disease associations. They also find that Asia has sizeable founder populations, where groups have broken away from the original population to form a new one, and suggest further study of these could help identify genes associated with rare diseases.