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Pathogens drove human genetic variation


Narrator:       This is Science Today. A statistical framework developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, offers new insight into how genetic variation in the human population is influenced by environmental pressures, like pathogens. Study leader Matteo Fumagalli explains.

Fumagalli:     We started from a database of more than 500,000 mutations characterized in 1,500 individuals belonging to more than 50 human populations and for each of the geographical locations where the populations are, we retrieve the environmental variables describing climate conditions, diet conditions and the pathogen load in that area.

Narrator: From this framework the scientists were able to show that adaptation to different environmental conditions has shaped human genetic variation across different populations.

Fumagalli:    Moreover, in this we were able to disentangle the effect of different environmental variables and so we showed that pathogen load has been the major driver in the shaping of human genetic variation throughout the human evolution.

Narrator:  For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.