The largest family tree in history reveals human genetic diversity how individuals from all over the world are related and allows us to learn about key events in human history, their chronology and geographical location.
This new genealogical network that predicts common ancestry and retrieval of key events such as human migration from Africa, was created by a team led by the University of Oxford (UK) and the method used is published in the journal Science.
“We’ve basically built a huge family tree, a genealogy for all of humanity, that designs as accurately as possible the history that gave birth to all the genetic variations that we find in humans today.”Yan Wong, from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute and one of the report’s authors, explained.
This genealogy allows us to see – explain – how each person’s genetic sequence relates to all others, at all points in the genome.
The study combined data on modern and ancient human genomes from eight databases and included 3,609 individual genome sequences from 215 groups. Ancient genomes included samples found around the world ranging in age from 1,000 to more than 100,000 years.
Algorithms predicted where common ancestors would have resided in phylogenetic trees to explain patterns of genetic variation, and the resulting network contained nearly 27 million ancestors.
In recent decades, genome data has been generated on hundreds of thousands of people, including thousands of prehistoric people, which Raises the possibility of tracing the origins of genetic diversitybut the biggest challenge has been integrating genomic sequences from many databases and developing algorithms capable of handling a large amount of data.
Oxford researchers have used a new method that can easily combine data from multiple sources and scale to accommodate millions of genome sequences.
Only individual genomic regions are inherited from either the father or the mother, so the origin of each point in the genome can be considered as a tree.
A group of trees, known as tree sequence or ancestral recombination diagramlinking genetic regions through time to the ancestors in which genetic variation first appeared.
The study’s lead author, Anthony Wilder, explained that the genomes of our ancestors were reconstructed and used to form a vast network of relationships, after which it was possible to estimate when and where those ancestors lived.
The team plans to continue enriching the pedigree map by adding more genetic data as it becomes available.
Wong considers that this study lays the foundation for the next generation of DNA sequencing, which will allow increasingly precise trees to arrive at a single, unified map that explains the descent of all the human genetic diversity that exists today.
The current research focuses on humans, but the method used is valid for most organisms and could be so “Particularly useful for medical genetics, by separating true associations between genetic regions and disease from false associations stemming from our common ancestral history.”.
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