Geography and Genetic Destiny

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Science  07 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6099, pp. 1151
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6099.1151-c

Humans are the most cosmopolitan species across the globe, because they are found on every continent and have established populations in almost every climatic zone. In order to evaluate the impact of local geography on human genetic diversity, Wang et al. looked at genome-wide Single-nucleotide polymorphism data across 100 populations. The authors evaluated the data at the continent and sub-continental levels and found that worldwide populations cluster with their respective local geography. This correlation was stronger in East Asia, in spite of the barriers presented by the Himalayas, relative to other well-studied populations, such as Europe. Thus, human demography was shaped by how topology affected human dispersal and migrations, and a greater understanding of these relationships may provide the tools to allow us to trace back the original peopling of the globe.

PLoS Genet. 8, e1002886 (2012).

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