Genetic Knowledge Grows Yet Again…

A Hunt for Genes That Betrayed a Desert People

I remember talking with a woman who was very interested in Genetics, and she asked me what groups I would think would have genes worth studying. My answers were the usual ones:

  1. Iceland, where the people can be traced to a specific group of people
  2. The Amish, whose separation has led to them escaping certain diseases around them and having diseases no one has, and
  3. The Mormons, another small group with Polygamy included.

She took me to task with the last answer, stating that the genetic group has been expanding over the past fifty years. I reminded her that the original group itself was smallish, plus their history includes lots of polygamy, leading to a narrower genetic base than would be normal.

Turns out my thoughts were a bit limited. Now I’d include a few other groups:

  1. The Australian Aboriginies, as they’ve lived separated from the rest of humanity long enough to show up genetically
  2. The European Jewish populations, who like the Amish have been separated long enough to avoid the usual diseases and suffer from others.
  3. The Negev Bedouins (see link above), whose inbreeding is causing problems.

I’m sure there’s many others. After all, things keep being learned.


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