Thursday, February 23, 2006

The alpha of the pack once again!   posted by Razib @ 2/23/2006 03:38:00 AM

One of the things that really, really, sucks about the "ID vs. Evolution" "controversy" is how much oxygen it can suck out of the air which could be devoted to shiznit like this, Structural variation in the human genome, Nature Reviews Genetics. One of the unfortunate (or fortunate depending on how you view it) rules of the game in regards to the old classical genetics was that humans were mostly theory and observational inference (eg, pedigree analysis), while the real experimental work was done in flies or mice.1 If terms like "additive genetic variance" and "fitness" were difficult to get a good finger on when you are talking about lines of Drosophila to whom you are the evil demon with the writ of life, death, fecundity and extinction, then they were really in a nasty situation when you knocked around some assumptions to hold you steady in regards to humans. This is kind of a shame because God the Father of the Trinity of modern population genetics, R.A. Fisher, was interested in humans most of all of all the creations of the Demiurge. The great thing about genomics is humans aren't relegated to the back seat anymore (again, many people might not revel in our return to the state of natural examination). In fact, conservation geneticists who work with wildlife are now eager to piggy back on techniques funded by the good graces of the NIH for the sake of human gene sequencing and expression analysis. The genomic revolution has put humans back at the center of the scientific universe as players. Anyway, the abstract:

The first wave of information from the analysis of the human genome revealed SNPs to be the main source of genetic and phenotypic human variation. However, the advent of genome-scanning technologies has now uncovered an unexpectedly large extent of what we term 'structural variation' in the human genome. This comprises microscopic and, more commonly, submicroscopic variants, which include deletions, duplications and large-scale copy-number variants - collectively termed copy-number variants or copy-number polymorphisms - as well as insertions, inversions and translocations. Rapidly accumulating evidence indicates that structural variants can comprise millions of nucleotides of heterogeneity within every genome, and are likely to make an important contribution to human diversity and disease susceptibility.

1 - The old physical anthropology was mostly description and narrative storytelling.