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The evolution of lactase persistence in Europe: A synthesis of archaeological and genetic evidence
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology.
2012 (English)In: International Dairy Journal, ISSN 0958-6946, Vol. 22, no 2, 88-97 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Lactase persistence, the ability to digest the milk sugar lactose in adulthood, is highly associated with a T allele situated 13,910 bp upstream from the actual lactase gene in Europeans. The frequency of this allele rose rapidly in Europe after transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist lifestyles and the introduction of milkable domestic species from Anatolia some 8000 years ago. Here we first introduce the archaeological and historic background of early farming life in Europe, then summarize what is known of the physiological and genetic mechanisms of lactase persistence. Finally, we compile the evidence for a co-evolutionary process between dairying culture and lactase persistence. We describe the different hypotheses on how this allele spread over Europe and the main evolutionary forces shaping this process. We also summarize three different computer simulation approaches, which offer a means of developing a coherent and integrated understanding of the process of spread of lactase persistence and dairying.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 22, no 2, 88-97 p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-168007DOI: 10.1016/j.idairyj.2011.10.010ISI: 000298143900002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-168007DiVA: diva2:490570
Available from: 2012-02-06 Created: 2012-02-03 Last updated: 2012-02-06Bibliographically approved

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