Evolution and human genetic variation – adaptation to high altitude

Next week we will cover recent human evolution. Certain populations have adaptations to high altitude hypoxia and to certain foods.

We will discuss the evolutionary biology of high altitude peoples of the Andes, Himalayas, and Ethiopian Plateau. For discussion: How might gene-environment mismatch account for acute mountain sickness in Europeans? How many generations does it take to evolve solutions to the problem of living in a high altitude environment?

We will explore the different routes to physiologic adaptation in Tuesday’s class.

Handout for Tuesday’s lecture:

High Altitude Cultures

Readings for September 2nd:

1. Beall

2. Genes at high altitude

3. Genomic Signatures Reveal High Altitude Adaptation

Optional altitude readings:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/92910801.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100513143453.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120120184530.htm

Also, why do some populations have trouble digesting milk?

Digestive problems with milk are common in some adult populations. However, some people have the ability to consume milk into adulthood, even though adults consumed no milk throughout most of human evolution.

Please read the following about lactose intolerance/lactase persistence:
1) Unkindest cup

2)  Human lactase

Optional extra readings:

3)  Tishkoff

Writing Assignment:

Why do the three major high altitude groups each have different adaptations to altitude?

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