Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ANTH 420 Potluck 1/30/2012

As we discuss primate genomes, I found an interesting article about a recent genetics study. In this study which was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology this past December, genetic and morphological data was collected from two howler monkey species who differ in everything from behavior to the number of chromosomes they possess. The study also collected data from individuals in an area in which the two species interbred. The results of the study found that hybrid monkeys that shared most, but not all of their genome with one species could not be physically distinguished from the pure individuals of that species. This is especially interesting because it can be related back to human ancestry. Anthropologists heavily rely on the human fossil record in order to infer hybridization as it relates to human evolution, but the fossil record can lead to different conclusions about hybridization than the assessment of molecular data. The study implies that the extent to which early humans interbred could have been drastically underestimated.

"Same gene linked to bigger brains of dolphins and primates"

Here is my potluck for the comparative genomics intro class!

Basically it's about the ASPM gene (one of the 7 genes linked to primate intelligence) that is found in primates and many cetaceans that leads to development of the neuron network of a developing embryo.  They have found at least 2 areas of positive selection among primates and dolphins but not other mammals (or any that are specific to just humans).

Michael Cruciger

Evolution of genetic and genomic features unique to the human lineage

This review article: here looks at human specific lineage changes as compared to chimpanzee and other primate genomes.  It points out some of the previous problems in the field (looking at only chimps as indicative of the ancestral state and using very small numbers of reads).  It shows that there are many human lineage specific changes in copy number variations.

Pot Luck 1/30/2012

Similar to our reading for this week the article I found focuses on the study of the genomes of humans chimpanzees, macaques, and the orangutan. This research focused on the difference of transposable elements between the sex chromosomes. The primates genomes and these transposable elements are able to tell us more about human diseases. One example the author gave was how the movement of the transposable elements can help explain variations in diseases such as cancer. Because the transposable elements are seen in higher frequencies on the sex chromosome, it is possible that differences in these transposable elements could be determined by gender. The study showed that the Alus integrates more frequently with the Y chromosome while L1s is more balanced.

Socioeconomic Contexts of Primate Conservation

Socioeconomic Contexts of Primate Conservation: Population, Poverty, Global Economic Demands, and Sustainable Land Use
In many of the readings for this week, I was interested in how genome sequencing efforts have led to an increase in conservation efforts - both of primate diversity and their environments.  This article, from the American Journal of Primatology, begins with an alarming statistic: over 50% of primate species are currently at risk of extinction as a result of human activity.  The author, Alejandro Estrada, explores the causes and trends of deforestation and its consequences for primate diversity and population.  Towards the end, the author proposes several potential routes to alleviate these negative consequences of human development.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ANTH 420 Week 3 -- Genome studies and evolutionary history

Given our focus this week on some of the more prominent published primate genomes, I thought this article might be of interest: In this article, Dr. Disotell demonstrates how genome studies of the Neanderthal and a group of Siberian hominins have succeeded in demonstrating a degree of gene flow between two populations of early hominins that were previously thought to be isolated. These results potentially contradict some of the most widely accepted models of hominin dispersal out of Africa and are highly relevant to many sub disciplines of physical anthropology.

ANTH420 Pot Luck (Week 3 - Jan 30)

Similar to Rebecca's post,  I think this NY Times article is an example of the real-life application of some of the processes we quickly reviewed in last week's class.  The article discusses the mutation that causes some types of melanoma that exist in the control region of the genes as opposed to the expressive parts of genes.

This Week in Nature Journal

Hey ANTH420,

In this week's issue of Nature weekly journal there are two pieces related to genomics.  Not highly applicable to non-human primates necessarily, but still pretty interesting in terms of the broader implications of genomics.

First is an editorial that approaches the ethics of genome sequencing in individuals.  This piece raises the privacy issues that occur when this practice is used on humans and then published in public databases.  Here's the link:

Second piece is a "Research Highlight" that features 2 genomics studies that found a gene linked to Alzheimer's.  A study performed on 2000+ Icelanders uncovered a mutation in the TREM2 gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's threefold.  It is suggested that the mutation regulates immune cells in the brain that would normally engulf the cell debris and plaques that are the hallmarks of this disease.  Link here:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tracing behavior to DNA

Since last week we were discussing some of Professor Bradley's research using DNA to decipher behavioral patterns of gorillas when they could not be observed directly, I though this article might be of interest.  Dr. Hoekstra is studying the underlying genetic causes of mouse burrowing behaviors and recently was able to link certain phenotypes of behavior to stretches of DNA.  It's interesting to imagine that one day much more complex behaviors might be similarly studied and linked to DNA!

An Interesting Take on Personalized Genetic Testing... For Dogs

Science Article on DTC Genetic Testing For Dogs

An interesting idea...

Dog Domestication Tied To Starch

Dog Domestication Tied To Starch

This is a really interesting quick Science News piece about the role of the human agricultural revolution in dog domestication.  Interesting use of non-human species to give insights into human cultural phenomena.