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Approved research

Gene-by-environment interactions and local adaptation in response to diet variation

Principal Investigator: Dr Rajiv McCoy
Approved Research ID: 47969
Approval date: March 13th 2019

Lay summary

Human diets exhibit diversity within and between populations, as well as through time. Population genetic evidence suggests that this diversity may have driven local adaptation in human genomes. This includes classic evidence of independent episodes of selection conferring lactase persistence (the ability to digest milk as adults) in certain African and European populations. Similar evidence of local adaptation has been described in genes related to starch digestion, as well as the ability to synthesize long chain polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Our project seeks insight into these evolutionary patterns by examining the interaction between diet and genetic variation on complex traits and disease using genetic and phenotypic data from the UK Biobank. This will shed light on the potential matches between individual genotypes and diets, as well as providing context for understanding how evolution has responded to shifting diet throughout human evolution.