Genetics pins ancestors to a map location

Aug. 16, 2012 at 5:03 PM
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TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Genetics can reveal not only who your ancestors were but where they came from geographically, researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University report.

Working with researchers from UCLA, they've created a probabilistic model of genetic traits for every coordinate on the globe for determining more precisely the geographical location of a person's ancestral origins.

The method has the potential to reveal the ancestry, origins, and migration patterns of many different human populations, the researchers said.

There are points in the human genome called SNPs that differ among individuals, Tel Aviv researcher Eran Halperin said, and mutated sometime in the past and the mutation was then passed to a large part of the population in a particular geographic region.

The probability of a person possessing these mutations today varies depending on the geographical location of those early ancestors, he said.

The new method is able to pinpoint more specific locations for an individual's ancestors, for example placing an individual's father in Paris and mother in Barcelona, a TAU release said Thursday.

Previous methods would "split the difference" and place this origin inaccurately at a site between those two cities, such as Lyon, the release said.

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