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Short or tall? Genes account for 79% of height differences, study shows

| | May 10, 2019

Since the human genome was sequenced nearly two decades ago, researchers have struggled to fully identify the genetic factors responsible [for height].

Now, a study suggests that most of the missing heritability for height and body mass index (BMI) can, as some researchers had suspected, be found in rarer gene variants that had lain undiscovered until now.

[Peter Visscher and his team] turned to whole-genome sequencing — performing a complete readout of all 6 billion bases — of 21,620 people.

They relied on the simple, but powerful, principle that all people are related to some extent — albeit distantly — and that DNA can be used to calculate degrees of relatedness. Then, information on the people’s height and BMI could be combined to identify both common and rare SNPs that might be contributing to these traits.

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And by using information on both common and rare variants, the researchers arrived at roughly the same estimates of heritability as those indicated by twin studies. For height, Visscher and colleagues estimate a heritability of 79%, and for BMI, 40%. This means that if you take a large group of people, 79% of the height differences would be due to genes rather than to environmental factors, such as nutrition.

Read full, original post: Genetic study homes in on height’s heritability mystery

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