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Modern European genes may favor vegetarianism

Krishna Ramanujan: ‘A study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution describes how shifts in diets in Europeans after the introduction of farming 10,000 years ago led to genetic adaptations that favored the dietary trends of the time. Before the Neolithic revolution that began around 10,000 years ago, European populations were hunter-gatherers who ate animal-based diets and some seafood. But after the advent of farming in southern Europe around 8,000 years ago, which spread northward thereafter, European farmers switched to primarily plant-heavy diets. The study – the first to separate and compare adaptations that occurred before and after the Neolithic revolution – reveals that these dietary practices are reflected in the genes of Europeans. Researchers collected data from more than 25 other studies that examined ancient DNA from fossils and archaeological remains (dating back to 30,000 years ago until about 2,000 years ago), and DNA from contemporary populations.  The study found that adaptations occurred in an important genomic region that includes three fatty acid desaturase (FADS) genes. Different versions of the same FADS1 gene, called alleles, corresponded to the types of diets that were adopted. “The study shows what a striking role diet has played in the evolution of human populations,” said Alon Keinan, associate professor of computational and population genomics and the paper’s senior author’. SOURCE…

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