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Hereditarians have claimed that recent advances in psychological and psychiatric genetics support their contention that socially important aspects of behavior and cognition in individuals and groups are largely insensitive to environmental context. This has been countered by anti-hereditarians who (correctly) claim that the conclusion of genetic ineluctability is false. Anti-hereditarians, however, sometimes use problematic arguments based on complexity and the ignorance that comes with complexity and a demand for mechanistic, as opposed to variational, explanations for the ways in which genes affect phenotype. I argue here, as a committed anti-hereditarian, that the complexity gambit and the demand for mechanisms open anti-hereditarian arguments to counterattack from hereditarians. Refocusing the argument onto issues about when heritability, genotypic scores, and genome-wide association studies may be appropriately applied and reemphasizing the point that context matters are stronger measures to counter hereditarian claims.
Many genes that respond to infection have functions outside of immunity and have been found to be under natural selection. Pathogens may therefore incidentally alter nonimmune physiology through engagement with immune system genes. This raises a logical question of how genetically promiscuous the immune system is, here defined as how heavily cross-referenced the immune system is into other physiological systems. This work examined immune gene promiscuity across physiological systems in primates by assessing the baseline (unperturbed) expression of key tissue and cell types for differences, and primate genomes for signatures of selection. These efforts revealed “immune” gene expression to be cross-referenced extensively in other physiological systems in primates. When immune and nonimmune tissues diverge in expression, the differentially expressed genes at baseline are enriched for cell biological activities not immediately identifiable as immune function based. Individual comparisons of immune and nonimmune tissues in primates revealed low divergence in gene expression between tissues, with the exception of whole blood. Immune gene promiscuity increases over evolutionary time, with hominoids exhibiting the most cross-referencing of such genes among primates. An assessment of genetic sequences also found positive selection in the coding regions of differentially expressed genes between tissues functionally associated with immunity. This suggests that, with increasing promiscuity, divergent gene expression between the immune system and other physiological systems tends to be adaptive and enriched for immune functions in hominoids.
Malaria is an endemic disease in a large part of Colombia, and the city of Buenaventura reports one of the highest malaria infection rates. Some genetic variants confer resistance to malaria, such as the heterozygote for hemoglobin S (HbS) and the homozygous variant FYBES/FYBES of the Duffy gene. The aim of this work was the molecular characterization of these genes in an Afrodescendant population from the urban area of Buenaventura. A total of 819 individuals from a stratified random sampling in each of the 12 communities of this city were analyzed. Molecular analysis was performed using PCR-RFLP, and data analysis was performed using Arlequin 3.5, SPSS 20.0, and R 3.4.1. Frequencies of 3.1% and 72.2% were obtained for the S and FYBES alleles, respectively, with 6.1% AS heterozygous and 55% FYBES/FYBES homozygous genotypes. The highest percentages of the resistant genotype (genotypic combination AA*FYBES/FYBES) were found for the 13–27-year age group (8.2%) and communities 1 and 3 (18% and 10.3%, respectively). Therefore, it would be pertinent to consider the remaining communities and age groups when performing epidemiological studies and preventive and health care campaigns on malaria in the urban areas of the city of Buenaventura.
We identified mitochondrial DNA haplogroups A, B, C, and D in 75 present-day Maya individuals, 24 Maya individuals of the colonial period, and 1 pre-Columbian Maya individual from Quintana Roo, Mexico. We examined these data together with those of 21 Maya populations reported in the literature, comprising 647 present-day Maya individuals and 71 ancient Maya individuals. A demographic study based on analysis of fertility and endogamy was carried out in two modern Maya populations to identify cultural factors that influence the mitochondrial haplogroup genetic diversity. Most present-day and ancient Maya populations show a distribution pattern of mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies A, C, B, and D in decreasing order, with haplogroup D absent in several populations. Considering only modern Maya populations with at least 50 individuals analyzed, the present-day Tzotzil and Lacandon populations from Chiapas show the highest and lowest genetic diversity, 0.706 and 0.025, respectively. Our results show small genetic differences between the Maya populations, with the exception of the present-day Tojolabal and Lacandon populations from Chiapas. The present-day Lacandon population from Chiapas differs from other Maya populations in showing almost only haplogroup A. This result suggests a long history of isolation and endogamy as well as a possible founder effect inside the Lacandonian rain forest. The contemporary Tojolabal population is the only one with an unusual mitochondrial haplogroup pattern, exhibiting a frequency of haplogroup B higher than A and the absence of haplogroup C. With a small sample size, the pre-Columbian Copán Maya show a high content of haplogroup C and a low frequency of haplogroup D. The genetic homogeneity of the Maya populations is indicative of a common origin and nearly continuous gene flow in the long term within a general isolation of the whole group, in contrast to the Nahua populations that had different origins. Our demographic study showed high fertility rates and high levels of endogamy in the present-day Maya populations from Quintana Roo that are consistent with their general low genetic diversity. We propose that the genetic similarity among ancient and present-day Maya populations persists due to a strong sense of social cohesion and identity that impacts their marriage practices, keeping this cultural group isolated. These factors have constrained gene flow inside the Maya region and have impeded the differentiation among the Maya. Discernment of genetic differentiation within the peninsula is constrained by the lack of sampling documentation in the literature.
The sella turcica has gained importance as a stable bony landmark in cephalometric studies. This study explored the changes that accompany postnatal ontogeny of the sella turcica until full development and verified its contribution in age estimation and sexual assignment among Egyptians. Six selected measurements of the sella turcica of 215 Egyptian patients were assessed using multidetector computed tomography. The patients represented different ages and were referred to the Diagnostic and Interventional Radiological Department, Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. The gathered data were then subjected to statistical analysis, including correlation and regression analysis. The measurements of the sella showed a strong correlation with age. Three selected measurements demonstrated significant sexual dimorphism: sella width and anterior and median height in subjects 20–25 years old. Six regression equations were derived. The accuracy achieved by the combined parameters in the younger group (<25 years old) was higher than that in the older individuals. This study provides useful tools in the determination of age and sex in both forensic and bioarcheological disciplines. However, further studies concerning the shape are strongly suggested.