April 22 2010

3:00 LSB 2320

Richard Green
UC Santa Cruz

"Recent Human Evolution as Revealed by the Neandertal genome"


Recent technological advances have enabled large-scale retrieval and sequencing of DNA from our closest relatives, the extinct Neandertals. To detect regions of recent positive selection in humans, to better understand our relationship to Neandertals, and to eventually understand Neandertal-specific biology we recently embarked on a project to sequence the complete Neandertal genome. To achieve this goal, several technological advances were required in recovery and identification of ancient DNA sequence from fossil bones. Having passed a milestone of 1-fold genome coverage, we have begun to analyze these data to address questions about recent human evolution. From these data, we estimate an average Neandertal-human genome divergence of about 800,000 years and a population split time of about 300,000 years. The latter estimate rules of one model of hominid evolution, namely that Neandertals are the decendants of H. heidelbergensis. Because Neandertals share some of the genetic diversity still extant within human populations, they make an ideal genetic comparison to test for recent positive selection in humans. We are currently analyzing human diversity data to find regions where little or no variation is shared with Neandertals in the hopes of identifying the genetic basis of being fully modern humans.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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