Genetic aspects of genealogy

Genetic aspects of genealogy The supplementary historical discipline genealogy is also a supplementary genetic discipline. In its formation, genetics borrowed from genealogy some methods of pedigree analysis. In the 21th century, it started receiving contribution from computer-aided genealogy and genetic (molecular) genealogy. The former provides novel tools for genetics, while the latter, which employing genetic methods, enriches genetics with new evidence. Genealogists formulated three main laws of genealogy: the law of three generations, the law of doubling the ancestry number, and the law of declining ancestry. The significance and meaning of these laws can be fully understood only in light of genetics. For instance, a controversy between the exponential growth of the number of ancestors of an individual, i.e., the law of doubling the ancestry number, and the limited number of the humankind is explained by the presence of weak inbreeding because of sibs’ interference; the latter causes the pedigrees’ collapse, i.e., explains also the law of diminishing ancestry number. Mathematic modeling of pedigrees’ collapse presented in a number of studies showed that the number of ancestors of each individual attains maximum in a particular generation termed ancestry saturated generation. All representatives of this and preceding generation that left progeny are common ancestors of all current members of the population. In subdivided populations, these generations are more ancient than in panmictic ones, whereas in small isolates and social strata with limited numbers of partners, they are younger. The genealogical law of three generations, according to which each hundred years contain on average three generation intervals, holds for generation lengths for Y-chromosomal DNA typically equal to 31–32 years; for autosomal and mtDNA, this time is somewhat shorter. Moving along ascending lines, the number of genetically effective ancestors transmitting their DNA fragments to descendants increases far slower than the number of common ancestors, because the time to the nearest common ancestor is proportional to log2N, and the time to genetically effective ancestor, to N, where N is the population size. In relatively young populations, the number of genetically effective ancestors does not exceed the number of recombination hot spots, which is equal to 25 000–50000. In ancient African populations with weaker linkage disequilibrium, their number may be higher. In genealogy, the degree of kinship is measured by the number of births separating the individuals under comparison, and in genetics, by Wright’s coefficients of relationship (R). Genetic frames of a “large family” are limited by the average genomic differences among the members of the human population, which constitute approximately 0.1%. Conventionally it can be assumed that it is limited by relatives, associated with the members of the given nuclear family by the 7th degree of relatedness (R ∼ 0.78%). However, in the course of the HapMap project it was established that 10–30% of pairs of individuals from the same population have at least one common genome region, which they inherited from a recent common ancestor. A nuclear family, if it is not consanguinous, unites two lineages, and indirectly, a multitude of them, constituting a “suprafamily” equivalent to a population. Some problems of genealogy and related historical issues can be resolved only with the help of genetics. These problems include identification of “true” and “false” Rurikids and the problem of continuity of the Y-chromosomal lineage of the Romanov dynasty. On the other hand, computer-aided genealogy and molecular genealogy seem to be promising in resolving genetic problems connected to recombination and coalescence of genomic regions. Russian Journal of Genetics Springer Journals

Genetic aspects of genealogy

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SP MAIK Nauka/Interperiodica
Copyright © 2011 by Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.
Biomedicine; Human Genetics; Microbial Genetics and Genomics; Animal Genetics and Genomics
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