Recent Study Reveals Role of Genetics in Skin Color Evolution

UCL geneticists led study on diverse Latin American has identified new genetic variations related with skin color. Scientists and humans have been curious how varied types of skin color evolved. The result of the study published in Nature Communications journal. The study found difference in light skin tone among Eurasian people who evolved independently from different genetic backgrounds.

Inherited Variation from Native Ancestors Played a Significant Role in Pigmentation

The study included 6000 participants from Latin America, who have mix of European, Native American, and African ancestry. Native Americans are genetically closely related to East Asians due to the initial settlement of Americans from Eastern Siberia into North America. Migration led to a close relation between the people from these two regions. As a result, genetic variations in Native Americans are usually linked with East Asians.

This is the first time when a close relation has been found between Native Americans and East Asians. This dates back to 40,000 years ago, when East Asians diverted from Europeans. Then they were carried over to America as ancient Native Americans migrated.

The lighter color of skin evolved independently in East Asia and Europe, said Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari associated with UCL genetics institute. The study also shows the gene was under natural selection in East Asia. And it completely adapted changes in sunlight levels and ultraviolet radiations.

This is a first research in which gene linked to skin tone diversity in Africa carried out. In addition, Latin Americans’ are also underrepresented in genetics research especially related to pigmentation research. Until now, pigmentation variation such as skin color in Latin Americans was related to African or European ancestors. But this new study reveals inherited variation from Native ancestors also played a crucial role.

Author: Rohit Bhisey

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