Scientists Create Genetic Atlas to Provide Insight into Human Health and History

Scientists Create Genetic Atlas to Provide Insight into Human Health and History

In a bid to understand where human came from, scientists have mapped the genetic legacy of the events of the past 4,000 years that have shaped populations like Genghis Khan's expansion of the Mongol Empire. They actually created a kind of genetic atlas to give a better insight into human health and history.

Genetic data on 95 different populations was used for the atlas to prove the veracity of known historical interactions between peoples. It also shows the impacts of European colonialism, the Arab slave trade, the Mongol Empire, and trade near the Silk Road.

After the researchers compared a sample of DNA from one of the groups against other populations' DNA, they found that matching sequences pointed towards shared ancestry.

The study was led by scientists at University College London and Oxford University. Garrett Hellenthal, lead author and research fellow at the UCL Genetics Institute, said long uninterrupted matched DNA sequence suggested recent occurrence of intermingling.

On the other hand, shorter matches were more in favor of the belief that the mixing occurred in earlier periods, which allowed the team to estimate the occurrence of the interaction.

Hellenthal said that it was surprising to know that some of these signals are so clear and they occur in so many groups. "Some 80 percent or more of our sample can be looked at as products of mixtures between two or more genetically distinguishable groups", said Hellenthal.

The study has added to the historical evidence that the Hazara people of Pakistan are partially descended from Mongol warriors by showing that DNA entered the population when Mongol empire existed.

Apart from providing significant details about historical events, the new study - published in the journal Science titled as 'A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History'- also looked into how health and disease in different populations are affected by DNA.

Simon Myers, a lecturer in bioinformatics at Oxford University and senior author of the study, said that having a better understanding of the genetic similarities and differences between human populations is significant for public health.

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