Feeds

All blue-eyed people share one common ancestor

Genetic mutation responsible for Sinatra

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A University of Copenhagen team has identified the gene which around 6-10,000 years ago underwent a genetic mutation in one individual who eventually gave rise to all blue-eyed people.

Professor Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine began his research in 1996, when he "first implicated the OCA2 gene as being responsible for eye colour", as ScienceDaily puts it.

Over the next decade, he and his colleagues "examined mitochondrial DNA and compared the eye colour of blue-eyed individuals" in countries including Denmark, Jordan and Turkey.

Eiberg explained: “Originally, we all had brown eyes. But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a 'switch', which literally 'turned off' the ability to produce brown eyes."

Specifically, ScienceDaily explains, the OCA2 gene "codes for the so-called P protein, which is involved in the production of melanin". The “switch”, located in the gene adjacent to OCA2, doesn't turn off the gene entirely, but "limits its action to reducing the production of melanin in the iris", thus “diluting” brown eyes to blue.

That the switch doesn't entirely disable the OCA2 gene is significant, because a complete shut-down of melanin production would result in albinism.

The proof that all blue-eyed people have a common ancestor comes from the fact that whereas eye colours ranging from brown to green are caused by relatively large differences in the amount of melanin in the iris, controlled by "considerable individual variation" in the area of the DNA responsible for melanin production, the variation in iris melanin levels across all blue-eyed individuals is very small.

Eiberg elaborated: “From this we can conclude that all blue-eyed individuals are linked to the same ancestor. They have all inherited the same switch at exactly the same spot in their DNA.”

Eiberg noted that the blue eyes mutation is neither "positive nor negative", since it doesn't affect chances of survival. He concluded: "It simply shows that nature is constantly shuffling the human genome, creating a genetic cocktail of human chromosomes and trying out different changes as it does so.” ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?