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U-M researchers release most detailed global study of genetic variation
Date:2/20/2008

This release is availabe in Spanish.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---University of Michigan scientists and their colleagues at the National Institute on Aging have produced the largest and most detailed worldwide study of human genetic variation, a treasure trove offering new insights into early migrations out of Africa and across the globe.

Like astronomers who build ever-larger telescopes to peer deeper into space, population geneticists like U-M's Noah Rosenberg are using the latest genetic tools to probe DNA molecules in unprecedented detail, uncovering new clues to humanity's origins.

The latest study characterizes more than 500,000 DNA markers in the human genome and examines variations across 29 populations on five continents.

"Our study is one of the first in a new wave of extremely high-resolution genome scans of population genetic variation," said Rosenberg, an assistant research professor at U-M's Life Sciences Institute and co-senior author of the study, to be published in the Feb. 21 edition of Nature.

"Now that we have the technology to look at thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of genetic markers, we can infer human population relationships and ancient migrations at a finer level of resolution than has previously been possible."

The new study, led by Rosenberg and National Institute on Aging colleague Andrew Singleton, produced genetic data nearly 100 times more detailed than previous worldwide assessments of human populations. It shows that:

  • A recently discovered type of human genetic variation, known as a copy-number variant or CNV, is a reliable addition to the toolkit of population geneticists and should speed the discovery of disease-related genes. Rosenberg and his colleagues discovered 507 previously unknown CNVs, which are large chunks of DNA---up to 1,000,000 consecutive "letters"
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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-764-7260
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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