Where did your genetic ancestors come from?

[Part of a continuing set of blog posts on genetics and genealogy]
In the last post I described how you are descended from a vast number of ancestors, from all over the world. But how much of your genome traces back to each of these ancestors?

You have two copies of your 22 autosomal chromosomes, one you inherited from your biological mother and one from your father (we’ll ignore for the moment the small subset of our genomes that are inherited in a different manner, i.e., the mitochondria, and the Y chromosome, and the X chromosome). Your mother in turn had two copies of each of these chromosomes; one she received from your maternal grandfather and one from your maternal grandmother. Your mother can only pass on a single copy of each of these chromosome into the egg (though the process called meiosis). When she comes to pass on a particular chromosome, sometimes she transmits you a copy of your maternal grandmother’s chromosome, and sometimes she passes you a copy of your maternal grandfather’s chromosome. In those cases, your entire copy of that particular chromosome traces to your either your maternal grandmother or your maternal grandfather. However, frequently when she copies out her chromosome she takes big chunks* from her mum’s copy and then switches to her dad’s copy. Imagine that each of these chromosomes are books — now you could have inherited page 1-253 from your maternal grandmother and 254-600 from your maternal grandfather. In that way, the copy of the chromosomal book you receive from your mother will be a mosaic of the copies in your maternal grandfather and grandmother. The mosaic you receive was bound together carefully so that you aren’t missing any pages and so you get the entire story (no annoying bits where you’re missing the page where the murderer isnrevealed). The process of forming the mosaic is called recombination, and the switch points in the story are called recombination events (or crossovers).

In the figure below I show a picture of all 22 autosomes, two copies of each. Each chromosome is shown as a long white block, the length of the block is proportional to the length of the chromosome.


Let’s imagine that the individual is you. The maternal genome (the copy from your mum, note correct spelling on mum) is shown on top, and the paternal genome on the bottom. I paint each chromosome with a colour indicating where an individual’s genetic material has been copied from. So for example, you inherited the entirety your father’s paternal copy of chromosome 21; see how the entire lower, paternal copy of your father’s chromosome 21 is highlighted. So you have none of your paternal grandma’s copy of chromosome 21. Your paternal grandma had a full copy herself (she transmitted her chromosome to her son), but none of that is in your genome, as your father didn’t transmit it to you. Your copy of chromosome 21 from your mother is a mosaic (a recombinant) between her maternal and paternal copies of this chromosome, note how the painting of this chromosome changes from bottom to top as we move left to right along chromosome 21. Going another generation back see how this means that you have inherited the left part of chromosome 21 from your maternal grandma, and the right half of chromosome from your maternal grandfather.

Now let’s track your genome up your male lineage (technically your patrilineage), following your father, your father’s father, etc :


Each generation you go back, you inherit less of your genome from any given ancestor. Six generations back, you only inherited a small section at the tip of chromosome 13, and a section of chromosome 5. By chance, those fragments are both inherited from great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s maternal copy of the genome, the one he received from his mother. Thus, moving one more generation back, we find that none of your (autosomal) genome has been copied down over the generations from this male lineage. The entirety of the two copies of your genome is present back then, scattered across your sixth four ancestors, it just happens that none of it is derived from this individual. Despite being your genealogical ancestor, he is not your genetic ancestor, none of their story has been passed down to you. If you are female none of your genome descends from him, if you are male you will have his Y chromosome but your daughters will have nothing from him. Your ancestor had a full genome, and they transmitted their genome to their children, and their children in turn transmitted some of it to their grandchildren, but over the generations it was whittled down till by chance none of it is in you. His genomic story may live on in some of his other descendants, e.g. your sixth cousins, but not in you.

In the figure below I show a simulation of how much of your autosomal genome is present in each genealogical ancestor as we go back up the generations.
[discussed in more detail here]
Your genome is shown in the middle, in the next semi-circle out are your two parents (blue and red), then your four grandparents, and so one as we move out. At each level, the intensity of the colour indicate how much of your autosomal genome is in that ancestor, the total contribution to your genome sums to 100%.
For the first number of generations, all of your genealogical ancestors are your genetic ancestors, and contributed big chunks of your genome to you. But as we go further back we start to run into ancestors who contributed no genetic ancestry to your genome (these individuals are indicated by the white spaces). For example following the male lineage of fathers’ lineage back on far right, marked with an blue arrow; there, seven generations back, is that first ancestor who contributed nothing to your autosome. Moving back through the generations, more and more of your ancestors do not contribute to you genome”. Your family tree is soon full of genetic holes, ancestors who contribute no big regions of your genome to you, see how more and more of your ancestors are coloured white as we move out through the semicircles. Below I show the rapid increase of your number of genealogical ancestors (red line 2k) contrasted with your number of genetic ancestors (black dots), which grows far more slowly:

Your genetic ancestors rapidly become a tiny fraction of your total number of ancestors. The probability that you inherit genetic material from an ancestor drops off rapidly as we move back over the generations. I discuss these ideas in more depth here and here.

In the last post, I described how your vast number of ancestors meant that you were descended from nearly everyone in the world more than a few thousand years back. But you are only a genetic descendant of a relatively few of those individuals, as most have left no trace in your genome. For example, you might be able to trace a particular route through your pedigree to Charlemagne, as can almost any one with European ancestry, but there’s less than a 1/100 million chance that you’re a genetic descendant of Charlemagne due to that particular connection through your pedigree. Forty generations back most of your genome traces back to a random subset of around twenty-six hundred individuals out of all your millions of ancestors. It’s unlikely that Charlemagne is one of them.

While your family tree is staggeringly vast and geographically widespread, your genetic ancestry is likely more restricted. To illustrate this, consider the simulation shown in the gif below. Similar to those pictures in the last post, I trace back your ancestry over the generations. But now I’ve coloured genealogical ancestors in red, genetic ancestors are overlain in blue.

The x axis gives the geographic location of the ancestor. I’m simulating a population of 500,000 individuals spread out over 50 geographic regions. The vertical lines give the boundaries between these regions. Each generation back an individual’s parent comes from a neighbouring region with a 25% probability, and from a randomly chosen region with a 1/50 probability. Each time the gif ticks over, the histogram shows you how many ancestors you have in each region that number of generations back.

Up to about 7 generations back all of your ancestors are genetic ancestors (the blue perfectly overlays the red, but soon after that many of your ancestors make no major genetic contribution to you. In the figure below I show a zoomed in histogram of the geographic locations of ancestors in a simulation 17 generations back
You soon have genealogical ancestors from all over the place, yet there are geographic regions in which you have no recent genetic ancestors. Some of your genetic ancestors are from distant locations, but most are much more geographically restricted. That’s because the majority of routes back through your family tree trace back ancestors who stayed closer to home.

A thousand years back I’m descended from nearly everyone everywhere in Europe. I’m related to these individuals via millions of lines of descent back through my vast family tree. Yet the majority of the lines back through my pedigree trace to people living in the UK and Western Europe. Many lines trace back to more distant locations, but these are relatively few in number compared to those tracing back to closer to home. Ancestors along each of these lines are (roughly) equally likely to contribute to my genome. Therefore, most of my roughly 2600 genetic ancestors from 1000 years ago, who contributed the majority of my genome to me, will be random people living in the UK and western Europe at that time (who happened to leave descendants).

Looking back a few thousand years more, I’m a descendant of nearly everyone who ever lived almost everywhere in the world (at least those who left descendants, and many did). Yet most of the just over ~6000 individuals from that time who contributed the majority of my genome to me will mostly be found all over Western Eurasia. There’s nothing much special about these individuals who happen to be my genetic ancestors a few thousand years back. They’re likely not royalty. My genetic ancestors are just a random subset of all of my genealogical ancestors, they just happen to be my genetic ancestors due to the vagaries of meiosis and recombination.

This fact also means that my set of genetic ancestors, say a thousand years ago, likely doesn’t overlap much with yours, even if you’re from the UK. However, my genetic ancestors will overlap with some (random subset) of the people currently in the UK (and Western Europe). This is why reputable genetic ancestry companies can tell you something infortmative about where your ancestors lived in the past. When 23&me tells me that most of my genetic ancestry traces back to the UK, they’re telling me where the bulk of my ancestors lived, a few hundred to a thousand years ago, even though I have ancestors all over Europe. Although honestly I think they should also phrase this as something like: “the majority of individuals who are Graham’s eighth through sixteenth-cousins currently live in the UK”. That phrasing is much closer to what they are really doing when they look at your genome. Should I be excited if a genomic ancestry company tells me that a few megabases of my genome traces back Scandinavia? Should I start to imagine that my ancestors were Vikings sailing the seven seas? Well, I already knew that my ancestors lived all over Europe, and so I already knew that my ancestors included many Vikings. These genomic connections can be fun, but if I have Scandinavian genomic ancestry and someone else in the UK does not, that does not mean that I can claim they do not have Viking ancestors, nor that I’m more Viking than they are. Such differences are more likely the result of the randomness of meiosis than an excess of berserker blood in your ancestors.

Does it matter that I’m not genetically related to all of my ancestors? In talking about these topics I’ve been told things like “I won’t bother tracing my family tree back more than eight generations, as I guess many of those people aren’t my ancestors”. But any individual to whom my family tree traces back is my ancestor. My great^8 grandmother had a profound influence on who her son (my great^7 grandfather) was, and she shaped who many of my ancestors were. Her genomic story was passed down to my grandfather and father. The fact that my father, due to the randomness of meiosis and recombination, did not pass on the small part of his genome that he had inherited from her, to me seems largely irrelevant. Even if I inherited a small fraction of my genome from her, it would mean little in terms of how I resemble her. She is just one of the hundreds of genomic book passages that may been passed down from my ancestors in her generation.

Looking further back still, some sixty thousand years ago modern humans interbred with Neanderthals (and Denisovans) as our ancestors spread out of Africa. Note that I did mean to say“our ancestors”, as in, absolutely everyone’s. Everyone in the world is descended from those modern humans who first met and mated with Neanderthals, just as we are all the descendants of the many groups of people who remained in Africa. If we look carefully, using computational tools that detect subtle genomic signals, I can see that around 2% of my genome traces back to Neanderthal ancestors (this 2% of Neanderthal ancestry is scattered all over my genome like Neanderthal confetti). If you have a lot of Sub-Saharan ancestry, we would likely detect many fewer Neanderthal blocks of ancestry in your genome. You’re still descended from Neanderthals, but fewer of the routes back through your family tree trace back to Neanderthal than through mine. The fact that any of us carry the genomic trace of Neanderthal interbreeding is a fascinating insight into all of our family trees, and one of the most surprising findings in human genomics in the past decade. That this Neanderthal ancestry isn’t evenly split over everyone in the world is a statement that we vary in our degree of relatedness to people who lived tens of thousands of years ago. But this variation in our pedigrees are quantitative rather than qualitative; we are bound together much more by our vast shared family tree than we are divided by it.

These ideas are sometimes deeply unintuitive. I’ve studied them for over a decade and still truly cannot really get my head around how I can be descended from so many people, and yet genetically to so few of them, just a few thousand years ago. However, grappling with these ideas is important. All of us will have to get much more used to thinking about these ideas of genomics, ancestry, and family trees. Millions of people have chosen to be genotyped for ancestry tests, many more are being genotyped as part of large panels for medical genetics research. What genomics can and cannot say about our family history will become much more central to how we perceive ourselves over the coming decade.

In the coming posts we’ll bring into focus more seemingly contradictory ideas. We’ll see that despite the fact that everyone is related just a few thousand years back, I have to go back over a hundred thousand years to find the common ancestor of all of our mitochondria. Even more surprisingly, we’ll see that the copies of a chromosome I have from mother and father last share a common ancestor more than half a million years ago.

*What I’m describing here is the recombination process of crossing over. You will also inherit small stretches of DNA from either parent due to gene conversion. You can think of gene conversion as your mum switching from copying out her mother’s (your maternal grandmother’s) copy of chromosome 21 to copying from her father’s (you maternal grandfather’s) copy for a short stretch. There’s more of these gene conversions per meiosis than crossover (~300 hundred compared to ~30 on average). However, these gene conversion events are just short stretches of copying, just a few hundred letters (bases) long, while crossovers demark switches between long stretches of copying between the parental chromosomes (for 100s of millions of bases). Therefore, crossovers determine the bulk of your ancestry. That said these gene conversion events do mean that you have more genetic ancestors than the numbers above would indicate, here’s the graph from above with genetic ancestors due to both gene conversion and crossing over:
Your number of genetic ancestors including gene conversion keeps up with you genealogical common ancestors for long than the number of genetic ancestors tracking crossovers alone. However, these extra recent genetic ancestors due to gene conversion contribute very little to your genome. For example, 14 generations back you you have an extra ~7000 genetic ancestors due to gene conversion, compared to the ~950 due crossover alone. But each of these extra “gene conversion” genetic ancestors contribute only a few hundred bases to you, while the ones due to crossovers contribute several million bases. Less than 1/5000th of your genome traces back to all of these gene conversion genetic ancestors combined 14 generations back. Therefore, through the post I’ve ignored these extra gene conversion ancestors, and framed it as where most of your ancestry traces back to (note the use of weasel words like “most”, and “little to none”). I think that is a more accurate reflection of where your ancestry traces back to, but I did struggle a bit with how to simplify these complex ideas.

Posted in genetic genealogy, popgen teaching | 14 Comments

Your ancestors lived all over the world

In the last post I discussed the idea that that we are all related in the recent past (building off the work of Chang, Derrida, and colleagues). This idea can be confusing; for many of us our ancestors all seem to come from one or a few geographic locations. How does this geographic restriction affect the relatedness between modern day humans?

I’m originally from the UK, but I’ve been in the States for a third of my life. However, in general my ancestors weren’t big travelers. My family is from Yorkshire and Staffordshire in England. My mum traced our family tree back a few years ago; my photocopy of it is stuffed in a drawer somewhere. A bit further back, apparently many generations of my granddad’s side of the family are buried in a churchyard in a village (I think) somewhere outside of Melton Mowbray. No seafaring life with a kid in every port for my ancestors. Unsurprisingly then my ancestry report from 23&me makes for dull reading, and says my recent ancestry is all from the UK. How then do I have ancestors all over the world just a few thousand years back? Is it really possible that I am related to nearly everyone who lived in the entire world?

The key to this is that I, and you, have vast number of ancestors just a short time into the past. Fourteen generations back –roughly four hundred years ago– you have over sixteen thousand ancestors. Twenty generations back you have (potentially) over million different people as ancestors. Even if only a few people in the past emigrated from a specific country to the country you’re from, you are likely descended from those immigrants.

To illustrate this, consider the following simulation. We track your ancestors back over the generations as we did before. But now instead of coming from a well-mixed population, I’ve divided up the population of a million individuals into ten regions. These regions are arrayed along a line for simplicity, and the boundaries are shown as vertical lines. Each generation back, there’s a 1/50 chance that an individual’s parent comes from a neighbouring region. We see our first local migration event 4 generations back; one of your 16 great-great-grandparents is from the neighbouring region. See how their pedigree in that region rapidly expands; you soon have many ancestors in this second region.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 7.04.03 PM.png

On top of the local migration, in these simulations there’s a 1/5000 chance that an individual’s parent comes from some more distant region (chosen at random). We only see these long distance migrants deep in your pedigree. These migration events are occurring in the population all the time. However, It’s unlikely that any of your recent ancestors is one of these immigrants, as there’s only a low rate of immigration. But you have vast numbers of ancestors further back, and so further back you start to be descended from them too. See how eleven generations back you have over two thousand ancestors, and a couple of them are from distant regions. Looking slightly further back, each of your immigrant ancestors has many ancestors from his or her distant homeland. You’ll soon be descended from nearly everyone in these distant regions.

This rapid spatial expansion of your ancestors means also that you share recent genealogical ancestors with present-day individuals in distant locations, as both your and their ancestors are found all over the place. To illustrate this, I’ve run our simulation for another individual who lives at the other end of the set of regions from you. Below I plot your two family trees together.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 7.06.22 PM.png

Maybe you think 1/5000 individuals being an immigrant from some distant location is too high, and it likely is for distant locations or other continents. However, even if it were as low as 1 in a million, we only have to go back roughly 600 years to find you descended from one of these rare long distant immigrants. A thousand years back I’m descended from nearly every traveler of the high seas who set foot in Europe. Well at least those that left descendants there; if they had an unfortunate accident with a short-sword before conceiving a child, then they’re out of luck. As a result of the ones who had kids, I have millions of ancestors on every habitable continent just a few thousands of years ago.

I’m not an anthropologist of distant oceanic islands, so I can’t tell you for sure that there’s nowhere in the world so remote (and so long isolated) that we can rule out that you recent shared ancestry with people from these remote regions. However, I can confidently tell you that you’re related to nearly everyone in the world via ancestors just a few thousand years back. Even for the remotest locations in the world, I suspect that they too are soon part of our family tree. as nowhere has been completely isolated for many thousands of years.

Some links to related topics:

by Brian Pears of the spread of ancestors across the UK.

Kaplanis et al (page 6) from Yaniv Erlich’s group explore patterns of dispersal using vast human genealogies. See a video of their graphic depiction of dispersal here.

Jerome Kelleher et al explore technical aspects of the spatial spread of your ancestors, and calculate the rate of spread of the rapidly expanding geographic region your ancestors are drawn from. We’ve used related ideas to calculate dispersal distances from genetic data (see Harald Ringbauer et al.).

Thanks to Vince Buffalo, Doc Edge, Emily Josephs, and Jeff Ross-Ibarra for feedback on an earlier draft of this post.

Posted in genetic genealogy, popgen teaching | 2 Comments

Our vast, shared family tree.

You might not like to admit it, but you’re related to me.

It’s very unlikely that you’re my sibling (I’m not even sure if my family read these posts). You’re one of over seven billion people alive today, and I have only one sister, so the chance that you as a random person are my sibling is < 1 in a billion. You're not my first cousin, because (as far as I know) I dont have any first cousins. But further back than that it all starts it go a bit hazy. I have eight great-grandparents and I vaguely know their names and know some of their descendants, I'm guessing you're not one of them (I met some of my 2nd cousins once at a Christmas long ago). But how far do I have to go back till I find I'm related to you? I have sixteen great-great grandparents, I have no clue who they were, and I certainly have no clue who my third cousins are. My number of ancestors doubles every generation I go back, as does yours. And my awareness of who these ancestors were, and my distant cousins, drops even more quickly.

Our numbers of ancestors grow so quickly that it is soon unavoidable that we have shared ancestors. Six hundred years ago (roughly 20 generations back) I'll have just over a million ancestors alive (220), a thousand years back I potentially have over a billion ancestors alive (233). There simply aren’t that many people alive in Europe back then, and so I’m a descendant of everyone who lived then as long as they left descendants (and vast numbers did). So I’m related to everyone famous who lived back then, and everyone non-famous as well. If you have European ancestry, you’ll be related to them all too, and we’ll be distant cousins.

To illustrate this idea consider the following computer simulation. Let’s think of a constant size population of one hundred thousand people. I’m in the present (the red dot), Each generation back my ancestors are drawn at random from the one hundred thousand people. Just for display purposes, I’ve arrayed the hundred thousand people out on a horizontal line, representing the population. Each generation back I draw lines from my ancestors in that generation to my ancestors one further generation back. You can see the lines tracing from my parents, to my four grandparents, and so on. The number of lineages of my family tree that we’re tracing quickly gets mindboggling, and we cant see individual connections anymore.

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 3.04.04 PM.png

Every time an ancestor appears more than once in my simulated pedigree I draw a circle around them. I’ve kept track of (left to right) my number of unique ancestors in each generation, the number of ancestors that are present more than once in my pedigree, and the maximum number of times an individual appears in my pedigree. My first overlapping ancestors occurs nine generations back; I should have 512 ancestors, but I have 508 ancestors instead. Four individuals are circled, each of them are my great7 grandparents twice over (technically these are called inbreeding loops). I can trace back multiple routes through my pedigree which lead to each of these ancestors. By fifteen generations back I should have over thirty two thousand ancestors, but in fact I only have less than twenty five thousand ancestors, there’s roughly six thousand individuals who appear in my pedigree more than once in that generation. One of them appears several times over. My pedigree is collapsing in on itself.

Now lets think about the overlap between our family trees. I’ve drawn your (simulated) pedigree back in blue, with mine overlain. When I find an individual who is a new genealogical ancestor to both of us I draw a circle around them. I keep track of the number of shared ancestors (the rightmost number, the other two give 2k and the mean actual number of ancestors a modern individual has). We don’t have to go very far back to find that our family start to overlap.
Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 3.12.37 PM.png

It’s also fun to do these simulations with small population sizes (see below). Here I do them, with only 20 individuals. Obviously this population size is pretty unrealistic, but it does allow you to see the overlap in the pedigrees more clearly.
Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 7.07.56 PM.png

The pedigree collapse problem has been highlighted by many people over the years, both for real pedigrees and through mathematical models. A good popular account of pedigree collapse is found in the New Yorker article the Mountain of Names (and the book of the same name). Also Carl Zimmer and in Adam Rutherford’s book both have great accounts of these ideas, and their genetic implications. There’s a nice article on the math underlying pedigree collapse by Wachter, describe the number of unique ancestors of person of British ancestry at the Norman Conquest (I’ve posted a [bad] pdf of the chapter here).

Chang extended these ideas and explored how far back we have to go to find the first common genealogical ancestor of the entire population, i.e. the first individual who all of our family trees trace back to, in a well mixed population of size N individuals. He found that we should expect to find the common ancestor of the entire population roughly log2(N) generations in the past, and that there’s little randomness in this result (i.e. if we run the process multiple times we get very similar answer). The math of this is somewhat involved, but intuitively the answer depends on the logarithm of the population size in base two, because you number of ancestors grows as 2k, so number of ancestors will be roughly the population size when 2k=N, which we can rearrange to find that the critical time should be roughly k=log2(N) generations in the past. He showed that (in a well mixed) population with N individuals, we only have to go 1.77 log2(N) generations in the past to find the time when everyone in the population (who left descendants) is an ancestor to the entire population.

Rhoade, Olsen, and Chang showed that even considering the low levels of migration among world-wide populations you only have to go back a few thousand years to find the first common genealogical ancestor of all humans. And we dont have to go much further back in time to find that everyone in the world (who left descendants) is an ancestor of everyone in the present. Even quite high levels of inbreeding make little difference to these results (see Lachance’s paper). This idea is wild to think about, we’re all descended from everyone in the world (who has descendants) more than a few thousand years back. Your family tree is vast and vastly messy, no one is descended from just one group of people.

A range of other people have worked on this problem. Notably Derrida, Manrubia, and Zanette have studied the number of times ancestors in pedigrees in mathematical models (see also their followup paper). They also showed that roughly 80% of individuals in a given generation (further in past than the cut off given by Chang) can expect to be ancestors of the entire population today. And Manrubia, Derrida, and Zanette have also written a nice, reasonably accessible account of many of these results and more.

In the next post we’ll turn what this implies about how genetically related we are to other people. We’ll address why, even though we are all very closely related, we aren’t genetically identical to each other. We’ll see, somewhat paradoxically, that some of the differences among humans, even within populations, are millions of years old. We’ll talk about why, even though we all have Neanderthal ancestors only some of us carry traces of Neanderthal ancestry in our genomes.

The code for these plots is on github here. I wrote the code, and most of this blog post, over a couple of our toddler’s naps while sat in a gravel pullout by a lake (he only naps in the car). It’s a nice lake, see the pic below, but I get some funny looks from cyclists as they bike past and watch me typing. This is all the say, that the code and blogpost are quickly (and somewhat poorly) written.


Posted in genetic genealogy, popgen teaching | 5 Comments

Genomics of Isolation by distance in Florida Scrub Jays

Stepfanie Aguillon and Nancy Chen‘s paper on combining genomics and genealogy to study isolation by distance is out in PLOS Genetics.


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Coop lab talks at Evolution 2017

Emily Josephs “Detecting polygenic adaptation in maize” 9am, Sunday, b117_119.

Gideon Bradburd. “Isolation by distance as a null hypothesis of population structure” Sunday, 9:00AM-9:15AM Oregon Ballroom 204. “ASN Spotlight Symposium- Processes underlying pattern: considering the evolutionary mechanisms underlying population-level differentiation”

Nancy Chen: Detecting short-term selection in a pedigreed natural population.  Sunday. 4:00 PM – 4:14 PM In session: Contemporary evolution 2. room C123.
Kristin Lee. “Distinguishing among modes of convergent evolution using population genomic data” Sunday, 3:45 PM – 4:14 PM. Oregon ballroom 202. SSB Symposium – Phylogenetic approaches to connecting genotypes to phenotypes 2
Vince Buffalo: “The Temporal Signature of Linked Selection.”  Monday 9.15 AM-9.30AM Population genetics: inference of selection 2.  B114-115
Erin Calfee “Detecting selection for ancestry in admixed populations with arbitrary population structure.”  2:15 Monday. Pop gen: Theory and methods. Room B114-115
Sivan Yair: “Characterizing adaptive Neanderthal introgression in modern humans” 6:30pm. Poster session: population genetics: theory and methods
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Guest lecture on archaic genomics

Had fun giving a guest lecture in TIm Weaver’s Anthro. course on Neanderthals, pdf of slides here:



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In defense of Science

In Defense of Science


We are deeply concerned by the Trump administration’s move to gag scientists working at various governmental agencies. The US government employs scientists working on medicine, public health, agriculture, energy, space, clean water and air, weather, the climate and many other important areas. Their job is to produce data to inform decisions by policymakers, businesses and individuals. We are all best served by allowing these scientists to discuss their findings openly and without the intrusion of politics. Any attack on their ability to do so is an attack on our ability to make informed decisions as individuals, as communities and as a nation.


If you are a government scientist who is blocked from discussing their work, we will share it on your behalf, publicly or with the appropriate recipients. You can email us at USScienceFacts@gmail.com.


If you use this address please use PGP encryption using this PGP public key: http://pgp.mit.edu/pks/lookup?op=get&search=0x52C7139DE0A3D350

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Population Genetics Undergrad Class

We’re teaching Population and Quantitative Genetics (undergrad EVE102) this quarter. We’re posting our materials here, in case they are of interest.

A pdf of the popgen notes is here

The slide pdfs are linked to below

Lecture One [Introduction and HWE]. Reading  notes up to end of Section 1.2.

lecture_2_rellys_inbreeding  [HWE, Relatedness (IBD), Inbreeding loops] Read Sections 1.3-1.5

lecture_3_population structure [Inbreeding, FST and population structure]

1/2 class Reading Discussion Simons Genome Diversity Project and Kreitman 1983 + 1/2 class on  lecture_4 [Other common approaches to population structure, Section 1.7 of Notes optional reading]

lecture_5_ld_drift [Linkage Disequilibrium + Discussion of Neutral Polymorphism] Reading Section 1.8 of notes.

lecture_6_drift_loss_of_heterozygosity[Genetic Drift & mutation, effective population size. Read Chapter 2, up to end of Section 2.3]

Lecture 7. Finishing up lecture 6 & Discussion of Canid paper.

lecture_8_coalescent. [Pairwise Coalescent & n sample Coalescent. Read Notes Section 24-2.5].

lecture_9_coalescent_demography [Non-constant population size, and demography inference].

Lecture 10: Midterm 1.practice_problems_1_2016

lecture_10_pop_struct_divergence [demography, pop-structure, divergence. Read sections 2.6-2.7 of notes].

lecture_11_divergence [Molecular Clock, Neutral theory, MK test]

lecture_12_ILS [incomplete lineage sorting, reading & discussion of Li & Durbin]

lecture_13_abba_baba_quantgen [ABBA-BABA & quantitative genetics]

lecture_14_quantgen [heritability and response to selection]

lecture_15_sel_mult_traits [Long term response, interpretations of breeder’s eqn. & Correlated traits]

lecture_16_tradeoffs_indirect_benefits[Correlated traits, Sexual selection]

lecture_17_1_locus_models [1 locus popgen selection model]

lecture_18_directional_sel_balancing_sel [directional & heterozygote advantage]

lecture_19_balsel_mutsel_balance[-ve frequency dependence, mutation selection balance, inbreeding depression]

lecture_20_migsel_seldrift [Migration-selection balance, Drift-Selection interaction]

lecture_21_seldrift [Nearly Neutral Theory]

lecture_22_hitchhiking [Hitchhiking]

lecture_23_selection_rec [interaction between selection & recombination]

lecture_24_supergenes_sex [inversions & supergenes, short-term benefits and long term costs of asexual reproduction]

lecture_25_sex_chromosomes_selfish_elements [sex chromosomes, sex ratio, sex ratio distortors]

lecture_26_selfish_elements [Selfish elements, selection below level of gene]

lecture_27_speciation [The population genetics of Speciation & Hybrid zones]





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Congrats to Vince on passing his quals


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Coopons in Austin

Two generations of Coopons (Brandvain & Ralph lab folks) out for BBQ in Austin

Cooplab_Austin_BBQ.jpgLeft to Right: Yaniv, Emily, Erin, Josh [Ralph lab]. Kristin, Vince, Jeremy, Nancy, Graham, Peter,  Alex [Branvain Lab].

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