Principal Investigator: Dr Torsten Günther
Department: Uppsala UniversityTags: 59537, fitness, GWAS, PheWAS, population genetics, selection
The signature and outcome of natural selection have fascinated generations of biologists since Charles Darwin. A specific interest was always on our own species, Homo sapiens, what genetic changes made us human and how we adapted to life around the globe. Most studies in this direction are based on comparisons between modern individuals and the fossil record or between different groups alive today. Direct testing of evolutionary hypotheses in humans is impossible due to various ethical and practical reasons. Whether and how humans are still evolving is an almost philosophical question and experts from different fields will have different opinions about it. However, nobody will argue that individuals differ in the number of biological children which corresponds to differences in fitness in the biological sense. The UK Biobank provides a unique opportunity to study subtle differences between genetic variants on a genome wide scale. This research will investigate whether there are specific genetic variants and loci that contribute to these differences in reproductive success. Furthermore, we will investigate what specific traits are connected to these genes and genetic variants which will also help understanding potential changes in disease predispositions of future generations. This project will use a combination of established methods and new models that will have to be implemented, the estimated time needed to complete this project is two years.