What we're reading: Evolutionary context for disease markers and why everyone has at least one famous ancestor


In the journals
Dudley, J.T., Chen, R., Sanderford, M., Butte, A.J. & Kumar, S. 2012. Evolutionary meta-analysis of association studies reveals ancient constraints affecting disease marker discovery. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29: 2087–94. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mss079.

We find that the current approaches show a propensity for discovering disease-associated SNPs (dSNPs) at conserved genomic positions because the effect size (odds ratio) and allelic P value of genetic association of an SNP relates strongly to the evolutionary conservation of their genomic position.

Ralph, P. & Coop, G. 2013. The geography of recent genetic ancestry across Europe. PLoS Biology 11: e1001555. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001555.

 We find that a pair of modern Europeans living in neighboring populations share around 2–12 genetic common ancestors from the last 1,500 years, and upwards of 100 genetic ancestors from the previous 1,000 years.

See also: the authors’ FAQ on the article and very nice discussion by Carl Zimmer.
In the news
More (not particularly optimistic) thoughts on political interference with peer review.
What do you do to help make your lab a nice place to work?
Jeremy’s launching a new side project: surveying LGBTQ folks working in science. If that describes you or any of your friends or colleagues, take the survey and pass along the link!

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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