February 22 2016

12:00 LSB 2320

This seminar is sponsored by Depts. of EEB, Human Genetics, and the Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences

Iain Mathieson
Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Human history, ancient genomes, and natural selection


Ancient DNA has already revolutionized the study of human demography, and is beginning to do the same for our understanding of natural selection and the evolution of complex traits. We recently used genome-wide data from over 200 ancient humans to study natural selection in Europe over the Neolithicthe period starting around 8,000 years ago that coincided with the introduction of agriculture. We show that strong positive selection in this period was focused on variants associated with diet and immunity, including several that are important disease risk factors today. We also studied the evolution of polygenic traits like height, for which we show that present-day variation in height is driven by at least two independent historical episodes of directional selection. These results demonstrate how the evolutionary history of complex traits can be used to explain their architecture, by revealing events that are inaccessible to analysis with modern data.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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