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Science Looks into Formation of Human Populations in South, Central Asia; More

A sequencing study of 523 ancient humans from South and Central Asia sheds light on the formation of modern-day human populations in the region. In a study appearing this week in Science, a multi-institute team of scientists sequenced the genomes of the ancient individuals, who lived as far back as 8,000 years ago, to discover that the primary source of ancestry in modern South Asians is a prehistoric genetic gradient between people related to early hunter-gatherers of Iran and Southeast Asia. The researchers also note similarities in the ancestry of South Asians and Bronze Age Eastern Europeans, which matches the previously reported movements of people affecting both regions who likely spread the distinctive features shared between Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages. 

A genome-wide association study appearing in this week's Science Advances reveals different genetic factors influence body mass index (BMI) in infants, children, and adults. By combining GWAS with modeling of longitudinal growth traits, the study's investigators — which include members of the Early Growth Genetics Consortium — find a significant overlap between the genetics of child and adult BMI. However, they discover a completely distinct genetic makeup for peak BMI in infants, suggesting different genetic factors control infant and adolescent BMI. "In light of the obesity epidemic, these findings are important to inform the timing and targets of prevention strategies," they write. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.