DNA USA: A Genetic Biography of America

Apparently not due out for another year, but here's what Bryan Sykes has been working on:
The best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve now turns his sights on the United States, one of the most genetically variegated countries in the world. From the blue-blooded pockets of old-WASP New England to the vast tribal lands of the Navajo, Bryan Sykes takes us on a historical genetic tour, interviewing genealogists, geneticists, anthropologists, and everyday Americans with compelling ancestral stories. His findings suggest: Of Americans whose ancestors came as slaves, virtually all have some European DNA. Racial intermixing appears least common among descendants of early New England colonists. There is clear evidence of Jewish genes among descendants of southwestern Spanish Catholics. Among white Americans, evidence of African DNA is most common in the South. European genes appeared among Native Americans as early as ten thousand years ago. An unprecedented look into America's genetic mosaic and an impressive contribution to how we perceive race, this is a fascinating book about what it means to be American.
Also of possible interest: Viking DNA: The Wirral and West Lancashire Project (Stephen Harding, Mark Jobling, Turi King); Surnames, DNA, and Family History (George Redmonds, Turi King, David Hey).

Some links

Ahnenkult: Miscellaneous musings on the Ainu; race quotes

Hail: USA’s Total Fertility Rates by Race, 1980-2008; The Decline of Abortion

Genetic Future: On sharing genes with friends

Forward: Newer DNA Tests Uncover Hidden Jewish Bloodlines

JASON: The $100 Genome: Implication for the DoD (US Department of Defense) (pdf)

Genome Res.: Adaptive selection of an incretin gene in Eurasian populations
Haplotype structure analysis suggests that the derived allele at rs2291725 arose to dominance in East Asians ~8100 yr ago due to positive selection. The combined results suggested that rs2291725 represents a functional mutation and may contribute to the population genetics observation. Given that GIP signaling plays a critical role in homeostasis regulation at both the enteroinsular and enteroadipocyte axes, our study highlights the importance of understanding adaptations in energy-balance regulation in the face of the emerging diabetes and obesity epidemics.

PLoS ONE: Dissecting the Within-Africa Ancestry of Populations of African Descent in the Americas

MBE: The Genetic Structure of Domestic Rabbits
Patterns of genetic variation suggest a single origin of domestication in wild populations from France, supporting historical records that place rabbit domestication in French monasteries.

Am J Hum Biol.: Substantial variation in qPCR measured mean blood telomere lengths in young men from eleven European countries
Controlling for age and case-control status, telomere lengths averaged 10.20 kilobases (interpolated from qPCR measures) across study centers and ranged from 5.10 kilobases in Naples, Italy to 18.64 kilobases in Ghent, Belgium-a greater than threefold difference across populations.

La antropología física y los «zoológicos humanos»: exhibiciones de indígenas como práctica de popularización científica en el umbral del siglo XX
All along the nineteenth century different anthropological exhibitions were held in many countries, in which people from a number of indigenous communities, especially transported from their homeland for the occasion, were exhibited publicly, both for citizenship's instruction and for specialists's "in vivo" studies on human biology. This paper presents a brief description of some of these scientific shows, and tries to relate them to contemporary human biology theories.

NYT: Heavy Doses of DNA Data, With Few Side Effects

John Hawks: Genomes too cheap to meter

J Pers Soc Psychol.: To be liked versus respected: Divergent goals in interracial interactions
Pervasive representations of Blacks and Latinos as unintelligent and of Whites as racist may give rise to divergent impression management goals in interracial interactions. We present studies showing that in interracial interactions racial minorities seek to be respected and seen as competent more than Whites do, whereas Whites seek to be liked and seen as moral more than racial minorities do.

Norwegian foundation plans ancient DNA analysis of Rollo descendants

The Explico Historical Research Foundation:
will attempt to find out if Rollo the Viking [male line ancestor of William the Conqueror] was Danish or Norwegian to settle a dispute that has been going on for centuries in Scandinavia. This we will do by retrieving DNA from corpses of his descendants.
They say they "hope to be able to perform our analysis by Easter 2011." The foundation's other projects include searching for remnants of the Celts in Turkey and Goths north of the Black Sea. More:
- Successfully conducted research on the Easter Island, proving South American origin for parts of the Easter Island population through genomic HLA typing. This research indicates strongly that some of the original Easter Island inhabitants some how migrated to the island from the east, from South America, and not only from Polynesia in the west, which has been the official story of Easter Island immigration. The research report by professor Erik Thorsby can be read here.

- On the Canary Islands contributed to the understanding of how the Canary Islands were originally settled and by whom (Pereira et al: Population expansion in the North African Late Pleistoscene signalled by mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U6. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010 10:390). Also, DNA from a Royal Native lineage on the Canary Island La Gomera proves a connection most likely with the Basque, North Portugal or a British 'Celtic' connection.

- In Normandy, in our search for famous historical figures, closed in the lead on the patriach of William the Conqueror, the great Viking giant Rollo, in order to solve a close to thousand year old riddle about his origin. To be continued..

- In the Ukraine on Crimea and the Black Sea coast of Azov our successful 2006 expedition work is now continued in the labs, hopefully providing us with new vital knowledge on the ancient Greeks, who they were and whom today are most closely related to them.

- In the Caribbean we have worked hard on finding the DNA and especially the Y-chromosome lineage of Christopher Columbus' heritage. This work now seems to have paid off, giving us the opportunity to make new revelations about one of the worlds greatest explorers.

- Established good contact and made all preparations ready for field work in Northern Africa. We are awaiting the neccesary permissions to continue our scientific work in the Atlas Mountains.

- Continued our work in the different fields of expertise involving new technologies and our constant search for new discoveries. We are currently involved in projects in the Caribbean, the Ukraine, in Peru, Russia, Spain, France, Turkey, on Greenland and in Scandinavia. The new technologies we continue to make use of are foremost DNA and the mapping of Human Migrations and Georadar instruments for discovering treasures underground.
(Via the GENEALOGY-DNA list.)

Open thread (5)

For links, comments, suggestions, etc. Previous open threads: 1 2 3 4

Not skin deep

Basque communist Maju thinks this study indicates "patterns of inter-population differentiation are stronger in the genes of appearance mostly" and "the actual underlying differences between populations [. . .] are invariably much smaller than it looks".

But this is not what the paper shows at all. The single most highly population-differentiated gene group in the authors's analysis relates to pituitary gland development. Next comes dorsoventral neural tube patterning. Then some low-level cellular functions, more brain development, sperm motility and development, and thyroid gland development. Pigmentation comes about halfway down the list and hair follicle development below that.

The placement of pituitary- and thyroid-related genes near the head of the list brought to mind Carleton Coon's comments on endocrines and racial differences in temperament.

Why a dominant China could spark tribal warfare

A commenter links to an article in Foreign Policy which argues:
With China's new prominence in global affairs, the Han race, which constitutes 90 percent of the Chinese population, is suddenly the most dominant cohesive ethnic group in the world -- and it is seeking to remain that way through strategic alliances, aggressive trade policy, and attacks on racial minorities within the country's boundaries. The less tribally cohesive, more fragmented West is, meanwhile, losing out. [. . .]

Such primitive racial instincts were supposed to be long ago passé: We're supposed to be living in Thomas Friedman's "flat" world or Kenichi Ohmae's "borderless world." By now, supposedly, everyone is increasingly interconnected and undifferentiated. Affairs should be managed neatly by deracinated professionals, working on their iPads from Brussels, Washington, or any of the other "global" capitals.

But most people do not really see themselves as members of a large multinational unit, global citizens, or "mass consumers." Instead the drivers of history remain the essentials: the desire to feed one's family, support the health of the tribe, and shape the immediate community. The particularistic continues to trump the universalistic.
On differences within Europe:

The wigger mindset

A reader forwards a reference to this passage by Hebrew wigger / wigger expert William Upski Wimsatt. In line with my own perception of what motivates these types, Wimsatt acknowledges "romanticization of blacks was also a way to elevate myself":

Why does head form change in children of immigrants? A reappraisal.

More from Jantz on Boas:
CONCLUSIONS: The results support the two hypotheses tested. Change in Hebrew cranial indices resulted from abandoning the practice of cradling infants in America. U.S.-born Sicilian children experienced an environment worse than the one in Europe, and consequently experienced impaired growth. We conclude that the changes Boas observed resulted from specific behavioral and economic conditions unique to each group, rather than a homogeneous American environment.

Greater population differences for some functional genes

Different level of population differentiation among human genes:
During the colonization of the world, after dispersal out of African, modern humans encountered changeable environments and substantial phenotypic variations that involve diverse behaviors, lifestyles and cultures, were generated among the different modern human populations.

Here, we study the level of population differentiation among different populations of human genes. Intriguingly, genes involved in osteoblast development were identified as being enriched with higher FST SNPs, a result consistent with the proposed role of the skeletal system in accounting for variation among human populations. Genes involved in the development of hair follicles, where hair is produced, were also found to have higher levels of population differentiation, consistent with hair morphology being a distinctive trait among human populations. Other genes that showed higher levels of population differentiation include those involved in pigmentation, spermatid, nervous system and organ development, and some metabolic pathways, but few involved with the immune system. Disease-related genes demonstrate excessive SNPs with lower levels of population differentiation, probably due to purifying selection. Surprisingly, we find that Mendelian-disease genes appear to have a significant excessive of SNPs with high levels of population differentiation, possibly because the incidence and susceptibility of these diseases show differences among populations. As expected, microRNA regulated genes show lower levels of population differentiation due to purifying selection.

Our analysis demonstrates different level of population differentiation among human populations for different gene groups.
Provisional pdf.

Blonde women earn more, have husbands who earn more

David W. Johnston. Physical Appearance and Wages: Do Blondes Have More Fun? (Economic Letters 108, s. 10-12):
Our data source is the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). [. . .] We limit our sample to Caucasian women aged 25 and over. [. . .] Regression results indicate that blonde women receive a wage premium equivalent in size to the return for an extra year of schooling. A significant blondeness effect is also evident in the marriage market. Blonde women are no more or less likely to be married; but, their spouse's wages are around 6% higher than the wages of other spouse's.


I'll skip the predictions (you're welcome to post your own), and just post a bit more information on a few projects that should be announcing results this year:

(1) Otzi genome. Here's a 9 minute podcast from Life Technologies containing a few more details:
- "above 5X coverage"
- "looking at potentially medically-relevant SNPs"
- "this individual living over 5000 years ago would represent an ancestor for, we think, a significant proportion of the European population."
- "looking at his ancestry and indeed trying to determine exactly where is he from"

(2) People of the British Isles Project. A movie from the Wellcome Trust:

Most interestingly, the project is now collecting phenotypic data, including skin color, and taking 3-d facial photographs. Bodmer: "The next stage of our study, we're now taking pictures of people's faces so we can analyze components statistically [. . .] and then look for the genetic features behind that. What are the genes, what are the variations that determine facial features. Will it be possible to reconstruct from a piece of DNA what a person really looked like."

(3) 1000 Genomes Project. Another short film by the Wellcome Trust:

Chris Tyler-Smith: "[The project has] told us that natural selection has influenced virtually every part of our genome [. . .] we've now got a catalog of some thousands of genes that we think have been specifically positively selected in our fairly recent history."