Population genetics

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Dyslipidemia and obesity have a high prevalence in populations with Amerindian backgrounds, such as Mexican–Americans. Here, the authors design an approach to identify Amerindian risk genes in Mexicans and identify five genomic loci, which include RORA and SIK3that may contribute to the risk of dyslipidemia and obesity in Amerindian populations.

    • Arthur Ko
    • , Rita M. Cantor
    •  & Päivi Pajukanta
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Current methods to identify the geographical origin of humans based on DNA data present limited accuracy. Here, the authors develop a new algorithm, the Genographic Population Structure (GPS), and demonstrate its ability to place worldwide individuals within their country or, in some cases, village of origin.

    • Eran Elhaik
    • , Tatiana Tatarinova
    •  & Janet S. Ziegle
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Gut microbes influence our health and may contribute to human adaptation to different lifestyles. Here, the authors describe the gut microbiome of a community of hunter-gatherers and identify unique features that could be linked to a foraging lifestyle.

    • Stephanie L. Schnorr
    • , Marco Candela
    •  & Alyssa N. Crittenden
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Modern human genomes contain Neanderthal sequences, but it is unclear whether these were selected. Here, Khrameeva et al.show that Neanderthal sequences associated with lipid catabolism are three times more frequent in Europe, suggesting that these sequences might have been beneficial to Europeans.

    • Ekaterina E. Khrameeva
    • , Katarzyna Bozek
    •  & Philipp Khaitovich
  • Article |

    The genes EGLN1 and EPAS1 are candidates for high-altitude adaptations in Tibetan populations. Here, Jeong et al. demonstrate that the two genes show evidence of high-altitude ancestry in the Tibetan genome, suggesting the importance of population admixture for adaptation.

    • Choongwon Jeong
    • , Gorka Alkorta-Aranburu
    •  & Anna Di Rienzo
  • Article |

    Severe acne is a common skin disease characterized by chronic inflammation and potential scarring. Here, the authors have identified genetic variants at two loci associated with severe acne and provide insight into the genetic architecture and biological pathways underlying the disease.

    • Li He
    • , Wen-Juan Wu
    •  & Ya-Ping Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The early steps in the evolution of multicellularity are poorly understood. Here, Ratcliff et al. show that multicellularity can rapidly evolve in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, demonstrating that single-cell developmental bottlenecks may evolve rapidly via co-option of the ancestral phenotype.

    • William C. Ratcliff
    • , Matthew D. Herron
    •  & Michael Travisano
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ashkenazi mitochondrial DNA variation has four major founders whose sources are difficult to trace due to the rarity of Ashkenazi Jews in the general population. Here, the authors provide evidence that all four major founders originated from Europe and provide a genealogical record of the Ashkenazi.

    • Marta D. Costa
    • , Joana B. Pereira
    •  & Martin B. Richards
  • Article |

    Spatial scale is important for ecological and evolutionary processes, yet objectively identifying critical scales has been challenging. Here, the authors illustrate how network modularity can identify critical scales in animal movement and significantly alter our understanding of ecological processes.

    • Robert J. Fletcher Jr
    • , Andre Revell
    •  & James D. Austin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A central tenet of population genetics is that the probability of fixing beneficial new alleles in a population is twice their fitness effect, but this has not been empirically proven. Chelo et al. show experimentally, using nematode worms, that extinction rates decrease when the number of beneficial alleles increases.

    • Ivo M. Chelo
    • , Judit Nédli
    •  & Henrique Teotónio
  • Article
    | Open Access

    5,000 years ago, the Minoans established the first advanced civilization of Europe, but their origin remains unclear. Here the authors show that the Minoans were a European population, genetically similar to other ancient European populations and to the present inhabitants of the island of Crete.

    • Jeffery R. Hughey
    • , Peristera Paschou
    •  & George Stamatoyannopoulos
  • Article |

    Differentiated genomic regions among conserved loci, known as speciation islands, are believed to form because of reduced inter-population gene flow near loci under divergent selection. Renault et al.show that reduced recombination, rather than slower gene flow, accounts for the formation of these regions in sunflowers.

    • S. Renaut
    • , C. J. Grassa
    •  & L. H. Rieseberg
  • Article |

    Here, Brotherton and colleagues sequence 39 mitochondrial genomes from ancient human remains. They track population changes across Central Europe and find that the foundations of the European mitochondrial DNA pool were formed during the Neolithic rather than the post-glacial period.

    • Paul Brotherton
    • , Wolfgang Haak
    •  & Janet S. Ziegle
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A variant in the IFITM3gene increases the risk of severe influenza, but homozygosity is rare in Caucasians. The authors show that the variant gene is homozygous in 25% of healthy Chinese people, and 69% of those with severe pandemic influenza, suggesting that this gene influences the epidemiology of influenza in South-East Asia.

    • Yong-Hong Zhang
    • , Yan Zhao
    •  & Tao Dong
  • Article
    | Open Access

    miRNAs simultaneously regulate a range of genes, making them potential master players in evolution. Huet al.identify a human-specific miRNA called miR-941, whose copy number remains polymorphic in modern humans, and show that miR-941 is expressed in the brain and could regulate important signalling pathways.

    • Hai Yang Hu
    • , Liu He
    •  & Philipp Khaitovich
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Hunter-gatherer populations in Africa preserve unique information about human history, but genetic sub-structures of these populations remain unclear. Using newly designed microarray and statistical methods, these authors analyse genetic compositions of southern African populations and reveal an ancient link between southern and eastern Africa.

    • Joseph K. Pickrell
    • , Nick Patterson
    •  & Brigitte Pakendorf
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mutation, selection and random drift determine evolutionary dynamics and can give rise to polymorphisms. Here, an evolutionary game model, in which each new mutation generates a new evolutionary game, is applied to study the emergence of polymorphism, resulting in higher diversity than seen in previous models.

    • Weini Huang
    • , Bernhard Haubold
    •  & Arne Traulsen
  • Article |

    Inbreeding reduces the fitness of birds and mammals, but at which stage in development this occurs is not always clear. Hemmingset al. show that when closely related zebra finches breed together, fertilisation proceeds normally, but the offspring are more likely to die during development of the embryo.

    • N.L. Hemmings
    • , J. Slate
    •  & T.R. Birkhead
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Catch certificates and eco-labels are used to control illegal fishing worldwide, however, independent control methods are needed. Here, gene-associated SNPs are used to assign individual marine fish back to their population of origin with high precision, with potential application for illegal fishing control.

    • Einar E. Nielsen
    • , Alessia Cariani
    •  & Gary R. Carvalho
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The global prevalence of the Duffy blood group variants is important due to the resistance that the Duffy-negative phenotype generally confers uponPlasmodium vivax infection. Hay et al.generate global frequency maps of the common Duffy alleles to show transmission patterns of the malaria parasite.

    • Rosalind E. Howes
    • , Anand P. Patil
    •  & Simon I. Hay
  • Article |

    Matrilocal and patrilocal populations are predicted to have greater genetic diversity in mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome, respectively. Here, no difference in the diversity of the Y-chromosome was found in two such groups, suggesting that local diversity was caused by male gene flow in expanding populations.

    • Ellen Dröfn Gunnarsdóttir
    • , Madhusudan R. Nandineni
    •  & Mark Stoneking