An international group of researchers recently provided a glimpse of how disease shapes evolution in its work on G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency, an X-linked, hemopathologic trait that confers resistance to malaria (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/expresspdf/1061573v1.pdf). The study, involving genetics, evolution, anthropology, and more, offers insight into nature's response to malaria, which kills 2 million annually. As with sickle cell, G6PD deficiency correlates to a reduced risk of contracting malaria, but at the possible price of developing anemias. Andrew Clark, a Pennsylvania State University biology professor, developed a forward-in-time statistical model incorporating linkage disequilibrium, microsatellite data, and the selection rate to estimate the alleles' age. The A-allele, typical throughout sub-Saharan Africa, arose within the past 3,840 to 11,760 years, which correlates to historic and archaeological evidence according to the group, which includes collaborators from Tunisia, Rome, and South Africa. It also bolsters hypotheses that tie the spread of highly endemic malaria to...
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