Selection for height in ancient Europe

Screenshot - 10262015 - 05:22:41 PMIain Matheison, first author of Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe, has a short note up at his website, Selection on height in Europe. He concludes:

More generally, it seems strange that height is the only trait for which a robust signal of polygenic selection has been observed. It’s hard to imagine that traits like diabetes risk and lipid levels were not also under selection in this period. I think it’s mostly down to lack of power in the predictors for other traits. Possibly larger GWAS and better predictors will reveal more. Finally, most of the work in this area has focussed on Europe, since that’s where the large cohorts are. But similar dynamics must also have happened in the rest of the world and it’s only by looking at other populations that we’ll be able to understand more generally the process of human adaptation.

North Chinese are also taller than South Chinese. And there are many quantitative traits in humans. We’re living in a golden age of phylogenomic analysis of humans in particular, but at some point in the near future the lens will begin to turn back onto classical population genetic questions of the parameters which shape the nature of variation. The initial wave of enthusiasm for selection scans ~2005 seems to have abated somewhat, but I think it’s only a slight pause, as polygenic selection and “soft sweeps” come onto the radar of genomicists….

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