How to spot genetic variants in your family
Genetic variations, which vary between people depending on their DNA, have long been an intriguing topic in science.
But now researchers are getting more and more excited about the new way we can look at them.
The research is being done by a team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI) in Germany.
In a new paper, the team describes a new algorithm, called the ‘DNA-based ancestry’ algorithm, that helps detect genetic variants that may affect how a person’s ancestry is determined.
“We’ve done this work with the aim of getting the most reliable information,” said study leader Dr. Andreas Schäfer, a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Johannes Hoch and his colleagues.
“This work opens up new ways of investigating human ancestry and human diversity.”
To do so, the researchers developed an algorithm that uses a genetic marker known as ‘G-chromosome’, a portion of which is passed on through maternal lineages.
When analysing genetic variation in a sample of people from Europe, they found that the variant identified was only present in individuals with very similar maternal lineage.
However, this variation is passed down only in individuals whose parents were of similar paternal lineage, such as cousins.
The researchers say their algorithm was able to distinguish between genetic variants due to differences in how they were passed down from generation to generation.
The algorithm was developed by researchers at the MPI, the Max-Planck Institute, the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the Max Scherrer Institut für Evolutionary Biometrie in Bonn.
The algorithm was recently published in the scientific journal PLOS One.
In the future, the algorithm may be used to detect variants that are related to genetic differences between people in general, and not just between a person and a particular family member.
This is because the algorithm only uses the genetic markers, known as SNP markers, which are a mixture of genetic material passed down through a particular set of DNA sequences.
For example, a person with a certain genetic marker may have more copies of it in their DNA than someone with a different genetic marker.
In this case, the variant might be passed down by the mother to her children, rather than the father.
According to Dr. Hoch, the technology has also been used to help determine the ancestry of children from birth, such that people who were born with different maternal lineings were more likely to end up in different parts of the world.
The research was published in a recent issue of PLOS Genetics.