Is evolution still happening in modern humans?

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Though it may take millions of years for complex traits to evolve, say allowing humans to walk on two legs, evolution itself happens with each generation as adaptive mutations become more frequent in the population.

In a large-scale study, Columbia University researcher Hakhamenesh Mostafavi and colleagues analyzed the genomes of 60,000 people of European ancestry (GERA cohort) genotyped by Kaiser Permanente in California, and 150,000 people in Britain genotyped through the U.K. Biobank.

Two population-level mutation shifts stood out. In women over 70, the researchers saw a drop in the frequency of the ApoE4 gene linked to Alzheimer’s, consistent with earlier research showing that women with one or two copies of the gene tend to die well before those without it. They saw a similar drop, starting in middle age, in the frequency of a mutation in the CHRNA3 gene associated with heavy smoking in men.

“The environment is constantly changing. A trait associated with a longer lifespan in one population today may no longer be helpful several generations from now or even in other modern day populations,” Mostafavi said.

[Read the full study]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Natural Selection is Still Happening in Modern Human Populations, Major Genetic Study Finds