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DNA Consultants Newsletter #18

Sexy sons and sexy daughters: the influence of parents' facial characteristics on offspring

I.e., Why do sexy parents produce sexy daughters, but not sexy sons?

R. Elisabeth Cornwell, and David I. Perrett

Animal Behaviour doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.031

Choosing a mate to maximize fitness underlies all sexual selection theories. Key to understanding mate choice is the inheritance of particular traits. Using family photos, we evaluated the predictions made by sexual selection theories for human mate choice concerning the inheritance of facial characteristics and assortment in facial appearance of parents. We found that both fathers' and mothers' attractiveness predicted the facial attractiveness of daughters: ‘sexy daughters’. Fathers and sons were related to each other in facial masculinity but not attractiveness, providing only partial evidence for ‘sexy sons’. Mothers and sons did not relate in masculinity–femininity; neither did fathers and daughters. Parents were similar in attractiveness but masculine men were not partnered to feminine women. Our findings support some predictions of Fisherian selection processes and ‘good genes’ theory but are less consistent with ‘correlated response theory’ and the immunocompetence handicap principle.

Writes blogger Dienekes Pontikos: "Interestingly, this may solve the paradox of non-inheritance of male attractiveness. While sexy parents have sexy daughters, apparently they don't tend to have especially attractive sons. This may be due to male-expressed maternally inherited traits. Such traits don't make their mothers' attractive (they are male expressed), and they are not inherited from their fathers.

Climate Change Helped to Cause Downfall
Of Chinese Tang and Classic Maya Civilizations

A Test of Climate, Sun, and Culture Relationships from an 1810-Year Chinese Cave Record

Pingzhong Zhang et al.

Science 7 November 2008:
Vol. 322. no. 5903, pp. 940 - 942

A record from Wanxiang Cave, China, characterizes Asian Monsoon (AM) history over the past 1810 years. The summer monsoon correlates with solar variability, Northern Hemisphere and Chinese temperature, Alpine glacial retreat, and Chinese cultural changes. It was generally strong during Europe's Medieval Warm Period and weak during Europe's Little Ice Age, as well as during the final decades of the Tang, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties, all times that were characterized by popular unrest. It was strong during the first several decades of the Northern Song Dynasty, a period of increased rice cultivation and dramatic population increase. The sign of the correlation between the AM and temperature switches around 1960, suggesting that anthropogenic forcing superseded natural forcing as the major driver of AM changes in the late 20th century.

My genome. So what.

According to an editorial in Nature with this title, recent additions to the growing database of personal genomes dictate that research be undertaken on how people are using the new genetic clues about their health.

Human genes are multitaskers

Up to 94% of human genes can generate different products.

Heidi Ledford

Nature 456, 7248 (5 November 2008)

Almost all human genes can generate more than one product. Although people often struggle to master more than one discipline, our genes are accomplished polymaths. Genome-wide surveys of gene expression in 15 different tissues and cell lines have revealed that up to 94% of human genes generate more than one product....

Related article in Science

Parsing the Genetics of Behavior

Constance Holden

It takes more than a gene, or even a few genes, to make a personality trait. But which ones?

Genomics takes hold in Asia

Genome Institute of Singapore head Edison Liu talks about how to make pan-Asian genomics research projects work.

David Cyranoski

Recruited in 2001 from the US National Cancer Institute, Edison Liu was the first big international catch for Singapore's burgeoning Biopolis research hub. He still heads the Genome Institute of Singapore there and had the leading role in the Pan-Asian SNP Initiative, an effort to compare subtle genetic variations across Asian populations. He is currently chairman of Singapore's Health Sciences Authority and president of the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO). He spoke with Nature's David Cyranoski about how to make pan-Asian genomics research projects work. . . .

Related story in Science

Number of Sequenced Human Genomes Doubles

Elizabeth Pennisi

Science 7 November 2008: 838

How to get the most from a gene test

New tools squeeze more research out of personal genomics.

Erika Check Hayden

Published in Nature 456, 11, 5 November 2008
According to two commercial gene-testing services — 23andMe and deCODEme — US Army medic Timothy Richard Gall of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, has a higher-than-average risk of basal cell carcinoma, type 2 diabetes and psoriasis. But much more enlightening than these results, which cost Gall more than $1,400, was a free online program called Promethease that he used to further analyse the data. By offering more in-depth information and interpreting of more of his genetic variants, Promethease "gives a much more realistic view of the usefulness of the information", Gall says.

Start-ups and services such as Promethease are now developing ways to improve the limited value of information provided by personal genomics companies for consumers and scientists alike . . . . Read Article.

$5,000 genome next year, company promises

Complete Genomics is about to release fast, cheap sequencing into a competitive market.

Erika Check Hayden

Published online 6 October 2008 in Nature magazine

The era of the $1,000 genome has arrived. That's the claim from Complete Genomics, a young company based in Mountain View, California, that revealed today that it plans to sequence 1,000 human genomes next year — and 20,000 in 2010.

Article on Genetic Diversity of Native Americans
Declared Most Viewed in Online PLoS Genetics

One Surprising Finding the Role of Circum-Pacific Population Movements

Citation: Wang S, Lewis CM Jr, Jakobsson M, Ramachandran S, Ray N, et al. (2007) Genetic Variation and Population Structure in Native Americans. PLoS Genet 3(11): e185. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030185
We examined genetic diversity and population structure in the American landmass using 678 autosomal microsatellite markers genotyped in 422 individuals representing 24 Native American populations sampled from North, Central, and South America. These data were analyzed jointly with similar data available in 54 other indigenous populations worldwide, including an additional five Native American groups. The Native American populations have lower genetic diversity and greater differentiation than populations from other continental regions. We observe gradients both of decreasing genetic diversity as a function of geographic distance from the Bering Strait and of decreasing genetic similarity to Siberians—signals of the southward dispersal of human populations from the northwestern tip of the Americas. We also observe evidence of: (1) a higher level of diversity and lower level of population structure in western South America compared to eastern South America, (2) a relative lack of differentiation between Mesoamerican and Andean populations, (3) a scenario in which coastal routes were easier for migrating peoples to traverse in comparison with inland routes, and (4) a partial agreement on a local scale between genetic similarity and the linguistic classification of populations. These findings offer new insights into the process of population dispersal and differentiation during the peopling of the Americas.

Author Summary
Studies of genetic variation have the potential to provide information about the initial peopling of the Americas and the more recent history of Native American populations. To investigate genetic diversity and population relationships in the Americas, we analyzed genetic variation at 678 genome-wide markers genotyped in 29 Native American populations. Comparing Native Americans to Siberian populations, both genetic diversity and similarity to Siberians decrease with geographic distance from the Bering Strait. The widespread distribution of a particular allele private to the Americas supports a view that much of Native American genetic ancestry may derive from a single wave of migration. The pattern of genetic diversity across populations suggests that coastal routes might have been important during ancient migrations of Native American populations. These and other observations from our study will be useful alongside archaeological, geological, and linguistic data for piecing together a more detailed description of the settlement history of the Americas.

It's Not Just in the Genes

A major new multidisciplinary study in the October issue of Genetics concludes that human variation and evolution was sped by learned behavior and culture, and that molecular variation and gene expression -- long thought to be the primary driving forces -- work in tandem with environment to shape human beings. The article is titled, "Explaining Human Uniqueness: Genome Interactions with Environment, Behaviour and Culture," and is contributed by Ajit Varki, Daniel H. Geschwind and Evan E. Eichler, all at the Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA). "Rejecting any 'genes versus environment' dichotomy," they write, "we consider genomme interactions with environment, behaviour and culture, finally speculating that aspects of human uniqueness arose because of a primate evolutionary trend towards increasing and irreversible dependence on learned behaviours and culture -- perhaps relaxing allowable thresholds for large-scale genomic diversity."

The new approach in evolutionary theory overcomes an oft-voiced criticism that the rate of spontaneous, random mutation is too slow to accomodate the changes in species, especially quantum leaps.

"Anthropogeny" is a newly dubbed field that seeks to explain the origin of humans.

High Density SNP Testing Is Transferred from Medicine to Forensics

An article titled "DNA has Nowhere to Hide" in October's Genetics (published by Nature magazine) describes how the technology of high-density SNP genotyping that has opened up vast horizons in genome-wide association studies is now transforming forensic science. The new techniques can detect trace quantities of a suspect's DNA in a complex mixture containing hundreds of other individuals, substituting a rifle for what was previously a shotgun approach to crime scene evidence. High-density SNP testing uses allele profile frequencies -- somewhat as a DNA fingerprint and population statistics are used to infer ethnicity in our DNA Fingerprint Test.

Population Geneticists and Forensic Scientists Construct the Genetic Map of Europe

A review by writer Nicholas Wade in the Science section of the New York Times, August 13, 2008, summarizes the recent work by Dr. Manfred Kayser and others published in Current Biology revealing the genetic relationship between 23 populations in Europe. With few exceptions, the DNA landscape with its clusters and clines and genetic distances follows the political and linguistic boundaries of European countries. Finns were found to be very different from everybody else, and the Italian population was shown to be extremely stable over the ages. Who would ever want to leave Italy anyway?

Fine Center for Natural Medicine
And DNA Testing Offer Easy Way
For People to Explore Genetics, Health

Two Scottsdale businesses September 13 inaugurate what they believe to be the first public wellness workshop series to allow people to explore the intersection between personal genomics and individual health.

“DNA and Your Health” is a half-day seminar at New Vision Spiritual Growth Center taught by two experts in their respective fields. They are Dr. Anne Marie Fine, a naturopathic primary care physician, and Dr. Donald N. Yates, principal investigator of DNA Testing Systems, retired professor and author of When Scotland Was Jewish: DNA Evidence Shows Twelfth Century Semitic Roots.

The format combines class discussion with presentations on history, genetic ancestry, genes and medicine, and risk assessment for proactive health choices. Learning modules range from “SNPs: Genes That Influence Your Health” to “The Seven Daughters of Eve and Disease Linkages to Your DNA.”

Participants will each receive two painless, non-invasive tests. Dr. Yates’s company is providing a swab test whose results indicate where your ancestors likely originated, and what your ethnic ancestry mix might be. Dr. Fine will measure a range of individual health factors with an in-office test known as bio-impedance.

“You will have a chance to become one of the first people in history to map out a personal health plan according to the unique, individual set of genes you receive from your parents and ancestors,” said Dr. Fine. “It’s a totally new opportunity.”

DNA Testing Systems developed the DNA Fingerprint Test two years ago. The home test kit is superior to earlier ones in looking at your entire ancestry, not just your mother’s female line or father’s Y chromosome.

Dr. Fine was an early adopter of genomics testing. She has prescribed SNP panels in her practice since their introduction into clinical use five years ago. SNP (pronounced “snip”) stands for single nucleotide polymorphism, a location on our genes where we differ from others, and which may make us more susceptible to environmental toxins, heart disease, cancer or the need for a certain diet.

Two more times are scheduled for Saturday, September 27, and plans call for the seminar to be offered in other cities than Scottsdale soon.

For more information, email discover@dnaconsultants.com or call (888) 806-2588, or visit www.DNAandYourHealth.com.

Contact: Dr. Anne Marie Fine, (480) 657-8633, naturedoc@cox.net, or Dr. Donald N. Yates, (480) 292-9820, dpy@dnaconsultants.com.

Dr. Anne Marie Fine

The cavemen and their relatives: still in the same village after 3,000 years

By Roger Boyes
The Times

The good news for two villagers in the Sose valley of Germany yesterday was that they have discovered their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents -
give or take a generation or two.

The bad news is that their long-lost ancestors may have grilled and eaten other members of their clan.

Every family has its skeletons in the cave, though, so Manfred Huchthausen,58, a teacher, and 48-year-old surveyor Uwe Lange remained in celebratory mood.

Thanks to DNA testing of remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age bones, they can claim to have the longest proven family tree in the world. "I can trace my family back by name to 1550," Mr Lange said. "Now I can go back 120

Mr Lange comes from the village of Nienstedt, in Lower Saxony, in the foothills of the Harz mountain range. "We used to play in these caves as kids. If I'd known that there were 3,000-year-old relatives buried there I wouldn't have set foot in the place."

The cave, the Lichtensteinhohle, is made up of five interlocked natural chambers. It stayed hidden from view until 1980 and was not researched properly until 1993. The archaeologist Stefan Flindt found 40 skeletons along with what
appeared to be cult objects. It was a mystery: Bronze Age man was usually buried in a field. Different theories were considered. Perhaps some of the bodies had been offered as human sacrifice, or one generation had been eaten by

Scientists at the University of Gottingen found that the bones had been protected by a thick layer of calcium: water dripping through the roof of the limestone cave had helped to create a sheath around the skeletons.

The analysis showed that all the bones were from the same family and the scientists speculated that it was a living area and a ceremonial burial place.

About 300 locals agreed to giving saliva swabs. Two of the cave family had a very rare genetic pattern - and a match was found.

The skulls have been reconstructed using three-dimensional computer techniques and placed in a museum. "It was really strange to look the man deep in the eyes," Mr Lange said.


Frozen Hair Proves Ancient Eskimos
Unrelated to Other Native Americans

In an article in Nature magazine titled, "Unexpected Origin of an Early Eskimo," Daniel Cressey reports the genes extracted from a frozen hair excavated in Greenland point to an early wave of migration into the New World previously unsupected.

The hair belongs to a group of mitochondrial haplotypes called D2a1. These haplotypes, themselves groups of genetic variations called alleles, are used by researchers to trace the heritage of modern humans.

Different genetic codes are linked to different regions and groups. D2a1 is linked to Alaska's modern Aleutian Islanders and Siberian Yuit peoples, said a researcher in the project. “This means there has been migration into the New World that hadn’t been known before.”

It seems that the first migrations into what is now northern Canada and then on to Greenland may not have come from the Native Americans who were already in the Americas, nor from those who later became the Neo-Eskimos.

The find continues to reveal the complexity of the peopling of the New World and leaves open more than ever the hypothesis that Solutreans from Europe crossed the ice from the East to settle the Americas, in addition to Siberians from the west.

Over-the-Counter Availability at Local Drug Stores Empowers Those Troubled by a Paternity Question to Get a Definitive Answer through a Fast, Private Process

Press Release
July 28, 2008

November's Test Market Launch Made the Identigene DNA Paternity Test Kit the First DNA Test Ever Sold at Major Retail Outlets

Identigene, an industry pioneer in DNA identification testing, today announced 50,000 Identigene DNA Paternity Test Kits have been purchased since retail sales of the product began in a West Coast test market in November 2007. The kit is the first DNA test ever sold in major retail stores, providing answers to paternity questions quickly with probabilities of paternity greater than 99.99 percent. The self-administered, non-invasive Identigene DNA Paternity Test Kit is now available over-the-counter in 10,000 retail outlets in 45 states just nine months after its retail launch.

"The Identigene DNA Paternity Test Kit was a godsend for my son and me," said Jane Gillespie of St. Clair Shores, Mich. "What are the chances a DNA paternity test kit would become available at a nearby drug store just when my son needed one?" The ex-girlfriend of Gillespie's 17-year-old son had just given birth to a baby girl she claimed was his, but Gillespie had her doubts.

Adoptive parents were ready to pick up the infant at the hospital and wanted Gillespie's son to sign-off as the father, she said. "My son was devastated that he could be the father of a child he wouldn't see again." The timing was awful. "He was planning out his senior year in high school and had finally decided on a career path after graduation. He wanted to do the right thing, but he didn't want his baby to be raised apart from her natural father, as he had.

"I heard about retail sales of Identigene's DNA Paternity Test Kit on the radio earlier that day. And I had only an hour-and-a-half to find a test kit and return to the hospital to obtain a DNA sample from the baby," she said.

The Identigene DNA Paternity Test uses DNA samples of saliva or cheek cells. To use a test kit, the baby, the alleged father and, optionally, the mother have a small amount of DNA collected by swab. The samples, consent forms and a lab fee are sent in a postage-paid envelope to Identigene for processing. Results are available within three to five business days of receipt at the laboratory.

Just days later, Gillespie received lab results: The baby was not her son's. "We were both very relieved. My son felt like a huge burden had been lifted, and I have peace-of-mind knowing I don't have a granddaughter I'll never see.

"Identigene gave my son his life back," said Gillespie. "Now he is beginning his senior year in high school and has been sworn into the delayed entry program of the U.S. Marines, which has been his career dream."

Suggested retail price for an Identigene DNA Paternity Test Collection Kit is $29.99. The laboratory processing fee for the personal peace-of-mind test is $119. An option is available for retail customers who want to use test results in legal proceedings that provides specific collection and secure chain-of-custody procedures for the DNA samples. The processing fee for test results for use in legal proceedings is $319, which includes the lab fee.

Time to Most Recent Ancestor
(And Most Deep History)

Having always been suspicious of the low rate of mutation in Y-STRs used to establish male lineages, blogger Pontikos Dienekes has posted a major critical review of the subject titled "How Y-STR variance accumulates: a comment on Zhivotovsky, Underhill and Feldman (2006)." His critique suggests, among other things, that the age of male haplotypes has been overestimated by 90%, and that the speculative rate of mutation favored by most population geneticists is 3-4 times the observed rate in germline studies of fathers and sons. Furthermore, most estimates neglect rapid expansions of the population and the short-term success of certain male castes.

Read article on Dienekes Anthropology Blog.


Romanov Remains Verified

By Courtney Weaver

New York Times, 07/17/2008, p12

After extensive DNA testing, Russian officials gave final confirmation that remains found last summer in Yekaterinburg belonged to two children of Czar Nicholas II, his only son, Aleksei, and his daughter Maria. The remains were located about 70 yards from where the rest of the family's remains were exhumed in 1991. Laboratories in Russia, the United States and Austria conducted the testing.