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Omer Gokcumen gives talk in Geography Department – Feb. 26th

3:15pm in Wilkeson 145H and it is on February 26th.
“Geographic Distribution And Adaptive Significance Of Genomic Structural Variants: An Anthropological Perspective
Anthropological geneticists have successfully used different types of genetic markers across human genomes to reconstruct human history. These markers have also been used extensively to identify medically and evolutionarily relevant biological variation (e.g., disease susceptibility). The recent advent of high-throughput genomic technologies revealed an overlooked type of genomic variation, namely structural variants (SVs). SVs include deletions, insertions, duplications, inversions and translocations of genomic segments that vary among individuals. In this talk, I will argue that SVs are arguably the most important genetic factor that lead to human-specific characteristics, and, moreover, contribute to extant human variation in substantial and previously unexplored ways. Specifically, I will describe our recent efforts in mapping SVs across different geographies, establishing a timeline for their emergence and evolution in different human groups, elucidating the impact of cultural transitions (e.g., agriculture) on the evolution of SVs and elucidating their impact on human biology and health, especially with regard to early development, diet, skin permeability, and autoimmune disorders. In explaining our research in SVs, I hope to convey the general theoretical framework that is emerging in anthropological genomics at the intersection of sequencing technologies, evolutionary theory, cultural history and ecology. “