Unravelling the evolution of human diversity in admixed populations

This week in the CRESIDA seminar series, the speaker is Dr Florin Mircea Iliescu, a researcher in the Division of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, who is sharing his research on the evolution of human diversity. Come and join us on Thursday, February 7th at 4.15pm in Room G070 at Parkstead House to learn more.

Mircea Iliescu


Admixture has been pervasive throughout human evolution offering significant opportunities for novel biological diversity to arise through demographic and/or selection events. However, we have still to understand how evolutionary forces such as natural and sexual selection have been driving human diversity following admixture events that led to novel genetic variation in the context of local selective pressures and non-random mating.

Previously, we have characterised the complex patterning of the functional genetic variant within the SLC24A5 gene across Indian populations and found a major effect on skin colour variation in some but not all of the Indian populations. Furthermore, we suggested that, rather than natural selection, demographic and sexual selection forces have been instrumental in shaping human skin colour diversity among the populations of India. Currently, we study admixed populations from Chile and India to untangle the genomic and evolutionary patterns that can explain diversity and adaptation of visible traits such as skin colour and height, and variation in the immune response to pathogens, a key medical phenotype.

Present day diversity in skin colour and immune response to pathogens is a visible marker of human adaptation to local environments. We aim to find genetic variants driving variation in traits of social and medical relevance within admixed populations, while unravelling the evolutionary mechanisms underlying human diversity.

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