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Researchers: Our genetic history shows telltale signs of periods of starvation

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It will be interesting to see what various sources make of this:

A globally rare variant of the growth hormone receptor also seen in Denisovans and Neanderthals may have helped our ancestors survive periods without food, a new study published on September 24 in Science Advances claims.

Reconstructing the evolutionary history of a particular variant of the growth hormone receptor gene (GHR) variant—the so-called GHRd3 variant, which is defined by a deletion of the gene’s third exon—researchers have found that its frequency declined sharply around 40,000 years ago. Follow-up experiments in mice pointed to a potential explanation for why: the deletion appeared to limit male animals’ size when fed a calorie-restricted diet. This sort of growth limitation could help males survive lean times but limit their reproductive success in times of plenty.

Sophie Fessi, “Gene Variant Points to Starvation’s Evolutionary Legacy” at The Scientist (September 28, 2021)


The team decided to look closer at GHRd3’s potential role in starvation resilience by examining the frequency of the deletion among children in Malawi who had survived malnutrition. The deletion was less common in children who exhibited a more severe response to malnutrition called Kwashiorkor, which includes edema, loss of muscle mass, and an extended belly, than in children with a less-severe response. “In other words, the deletion seems to be protective against that particular metabolic syndrome,” says Gokcumen.

Sophie Fessi, “Gene Variant Points to Starvation’s Evolutionary Legacy” at The Scientist (September 28, 2021)

The paper is open access.

Maybe it’s a house of cards, maybe they are onto something. If the latter, genetics can help reconstruct human history, to some extent.

So this sounds like genetic robots at that point for the lab is it possible to train the lab to be selective or did they lose all ability to learn AaronS1978
Correlations of size and diet are always suspect. I'd be inclined to look for another function of the gene. Hint: The same gene variant that makes Labradors non-selectively friendly also makes them non-selectively hungry. Labs will treat anyone as a friend, and will eat anything that gets near their mouth. polistra

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