Unravelling Genetic Responses to Life at High Altitude
Abigail Winslow Bigham, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Visiting Research Associate, SAR
Colloquium, SAR Boardroom
Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free
High-altitude hypoxia, or the decrease in oxygen levels caused by lowered barometric pressure, challenges the ability of humans to live and reproduce. Human physiological responses to high-altitude have been extensively documented among long-term high-altitude residents (i.e. Andeans and Tibetans). Among Andeans, for example, genome scans for natural selection have identified several selection nominated candidate genes or gene regions for high-altitude adaptation. In order to explore selection nominated candidate SNP genotype associations with particular altitude phenotypes, Bigham and her colleagues conducted genotype-phenotype association studies among Peruvian Quechua. Their participants included Quechua who were lifelong sea level residents transiently exposed to hypobaric hypoxia and Quechua who were lifelong residents of high-altitude. In this talk Bigham presents the study’s findings, which provide key insights into the patterns of genetic adaptation to high altitude in Andean populations, shed light on variants controlling this complex phenotype, and are of potential importance for public health.