Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Genetic Map of the World


Geneticists at Oxford University have been studying 95 populations around the world and examining the effect of historical events on genetic makeup. The results of this study are now being visualized on a fascinating Google Map, called A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History.

The map allows you to select populations and view inferred admixing in the population's DNA and the date that the admixing took place. For example, the Silk Road appears to have brought Europeans to 1200 CE China. The DNA of the Tu people in modern China suggests that around this time the Tu were in contact with Europeans similar to modern Greeks.

If you select a labelled population on the Google Map you can view details of past admixture events which have been inferred, from the population's DNA. Colored circles or pie charts on the map depict the inferred genetic make-up of admixing sources in the population and a timeline indicates the period when the admixing is likely to have happened.

The map is a fascinating insight into the effects of historical events on distinct populations. Using the map it becomes clear how historical events like the Arab Slave Trade or the Mongol invasions led to changes in the genetic makeup of other populations.
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