In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice
New York Times, 2007-11-11


Eden? Maybe. But Where’s the Apple Tree?
New York Times, 2009-05-01


Signs of Neanderthals Mating With Humans
New York Times, 2010-05-07

Neanderthals mated with some modern humans after all
and left their imprint in the human genome,
a team of biologists has reported in
the first detailed analysis of the Neanderthal genetic sequence.

The biologists, led by Svante Paabo of the
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany,
have been slowly reconstructing the genome of Neanderthals,
the stocky hunters that dominated Europe until 30,000 years ago,
by extracting the fragments of DNA that still exist in their fossil bones.
Just last year, when the biologists first announced
that they had decoded the Neanderthal genome,
they reported no significant evidence of interbreeding.

Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far
and hope to complete it.
By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans,
the team concluded that
about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today
is derived from Neanderthals.

[Ma Ma! Da Da!]

Studies Show Genetic Similarities of Jews
New York Times, 2010-06-10

Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East
share many genes inherited from
the ancestral Jewish population
that lived in the Middle East some 3,000 years ago,
even though each community also carries genes from other sources —
usually the country in which it lives.

That is the conclusion of two new genetic surveys,
the first to use genome-wide scanning devices
to compare many Jewish communities around the world.

A major surprise from both surveys is
the genetic closeness of the two Jewish communities of Europe,
the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim.
The Ashkenazim thrived in North and Eastern Europe
until their devastation by the Hitler regime,
and now live mostly in the United States and Israel.
The Sephardim were exiled from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497
and moved to the Ottoman Empire, North Africa and the Netherlands.


Jewish communities from Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus
all have substantial genetic ancestry that traces back to the Levant,
except for Ethiopian Jews and two Judaic communities in India,
which are genetically much closer to their host populations.


The shared genetic elements suggest that

members of any Jewish community are related to one another
as closely as are
fourth or fifth cousins in a large population,

which is about 10 times higher than the relationship between
two people chosen at random off the streets of New York City,
Dr. Atzmon said.

Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities have roughly 30 percent European ancestry, with most of the rest from the Middle East, the two surveys find. The two communities seem very similar to each other genetically, which is unexpected because they have been separated for so long.

One explanation is that they come from the same Jewish source population in Europe. The Atzmon-Ostrer team found that the genomic signature of Ashkenazim and Sephardim is very similar to that of Italian Jews, suggesting that an ancient population in northern Italy of Jews intermarried with Italians could have been the common origin. The Ashkenazim first appear in northern Europe around 800 A.D., but historians suspect they arrived there from Italy.

Another explanation, which may be complementary to the first, is that there was far more interchange and intermarriage than expected between the two communities in medieval times, despite the fact that they spoke different languages.


Sickle cell testing of athletes stirs discrimination fears
By Rob Stein
Washington Post, 2010-09-20


Race reemerges in debate over ‘personalized medicine’
By Rob Stein
Washington Post, 2011-08-01