Tuesday, July 18, 2017

European Diseases Left a Genetic Mark on Native Americans

Photo courtesy of Library and Archives of Canada
November 15, 2016.
Michael Price, of Science Magazine, reports on the genetic effects on the American Indian Nation Tsimshiam in British Columbia  by the unfortunate variety of diseases and infections which diminished the local population upon contact with Europeans. The small amount of people who survived were able to pass down their immunity to their descendants. In the present time, studies show around 175 years ago, “infectious diseases brought by Europeans… have molded the immune systems of today’s indigenous Americans, down to the genetic level.”

"Using a technique known as whole exome sequencing, researchers—including Tsimshian scientists Barbara Petzelt and Joycelynn Mitchell—sifted through the DNA for genes related to immune response. They then sequenced DNA samples from 25 Tsimshian living near Prince Rupert today. Comparing the two sets of genes, the team discovered several immune-related gene variants that were rare among the living."

To read more, click here.

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