Thursday, August 3, 2023

Genetic Differences in Digestion Between Andean Populations

This study inspected the ancient genomes extracted from the Peruvian highlands with comparison more modern genomes from identical regions, that being highland and low-land regions, to identify genomic characterisitcs prevalent prior to the arrival of Europeans. The two regions have distinct environments making it suitable for study of how selective pressures can provoke adjustments in genomes, but is not limited to difference in altitude and agricultural practices. The lowlands were also more suspectable to the introduction of smallpox with the arrival of the Spanish as compared to the more remote Andean highlands.

The gene, MGAM, plays a role in the digestion of starch and has shown to demonstrate variants in the ancient genome that align with the start of potato domestication. A different configuration of MGAM was identified among the high-altitude population as compared to hunter-gatherer populations. The study potentially identified a variant of the DST gene. This gene modification is suggested to be correlated to enlarged right ventricles in individuals living in the highlands. This finding is in line with the suggestion of adaptation to high altitude among Andeans. 

It was found that the results differ from genomic changes among European populations as it relates to dietary changes, but with the rise in grain production in European regions. This was the increase in the amylase encoding gene, which serves as a starch digestive enzyme in saliva. Understand these differences in digestion could improving the treatment of diet related illness by acknowledging genetic differences among populations, such as their ability to digestion starchy foods, and which treatment would be ideal.

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