Genetic Mutations Offer Insights on Human Diversity

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Recent studies of human genetic variation have provided some interesting perspectives on our evolutionary history and the degree to which people from distant lands are closely related, genetically speaking.

In one study, researchers measured genetic variation at more than half a million sites within the genome's three billion DNA letters.  They did this for approximately 1,000 individuals representing 51 regions across the globe.  Consistent with evolutionary theory, they found that African populations had the highest genetic diversity, with European populations having lower diversity.

Such studies provide unique insights into evolutionary migrations, allowing researchers to better understand how human populations moved out of Africa less than 100,000 years ago.  Population-based genetic studies are also important in health care, providing a baseline that allows researchers to figure out how DNA variation may lead to higher disease risk.

A National Public Radio interview with Stanford researcher Dr. Richard Meyers can be found here.

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