Genetic Epidemiology, Psychiatric Genetics, Asthma Genetics and Statistical Genetics Laboratories investigate the pattern of disease in families, particularly identical and non-identical twins, to assess the relative importance of genes and environment in a variety of important health problems.
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PMID
11308097
TITLE
Natural selection and quantitative genetics of life-history traits in Western women: a twin study.
ABSTRACT
Whether contemporary human populations are still evolving as a result of natural selection has been hotly debated. For natural selection to cause evolutionary change in a trait, variation in the trait must be correlated with fitness and be genetically heritable and there must be no genetic constraints to evolution. These conditions have rarely been tested in human populations. In this study, data from a large twin cohort were used to assess whether selection will cause a change among women in a contemporary Western population for three life-history traits: age at menarche, age at first reproduction, and age at menopause. We control for temporal variation in fecundity (the "baby boom" phenomenon) and differences between women in educational background and religious affiliation. University-educated women have 35% lower fitness than those with less than seven years education, and Roman Catholic women have about 20% higher fitness than those of other religions. Although these differences were significant, education and religion only accounted for 2% and 1% of variance in fitness, respectively. Using structural equation modeling, we reveal significant genetic influences for all three life-history traits, with heritability estimates of 0.50, 0.23, and 0.45, respectively. However, strong genetic covariation with reproductive fitness could only be demonstrated for age at first reproduction, with much weaker covariation for age at menopause and no significant covariation for age at menarche. Selection may, therefore, lead to the evolution of earlier age at first reproduction in this population. We also estimate substantial heritable variation in fitness itself, with approximately 39% of the variance attributable to additive genetic effects, the remainder consisting of unique environmental effects and small effects from education and religion. We discuss mechanisms that could be maintaining such a high heritability for fitness. Most likely is that selection is now acting on different traits from which it did in pre-industrial human populations.
DATE PUBLISHED
2001 Feb
HISTORY
PUBSTATUS PUBSTATUSDATE
pubmed 2001/04/20 10:00
medline 2001/08/17 10:01
entrez 2001/04/20 10:00
AUTHORS
NAME COLLECTIVENAME LASTNAME FORENAME INITIALS AFFILIATION AFFILIATIONINFO
Kirk KM Kirk K M KM Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory, Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.
Blomberg SP Blomberg S P SP
Duffy DL Duffy D L DL
Heath AC Heath A C AC
Owens IP Owens I P IP
Martin NG Martin N G NG
INVESTIGATORS
JOURNAL
VOLUME: 55
ISSUE: 2
TITLE: Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
ISOABBREVIATION: Evolution
YEAR: 2001
MONTH: Feb
DAY:
MEDLINEDATE:
SEASON:
CITEDMEDIUM: Print
ISSN: 0014-3820
ISSNTYPE: Print
MEDLINE JOURNAL
MEDLINETA: Evolution
COUNTRY: United States
ISSNLINKING: 0014-3820
NLMUNIQUEID: 0373224
PUBLICATION TYPE
PUBLICATIONTYPE TEXT
Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
Twin Study
COMMENTS AND CORRECTIONS
GRANTS
GRANTID AGENCY COUNTRY
AA07535 NIAAA NIH HHS United States
AA07728 NIAAA NIH HHS United States
AA11998 NIAAA NIH HHS United States
GENERAL NOTE
KEYWORDS
MESH HEADINGS
DESCRIPTORNAME QUALIFIERNAME
Age Factors
Australia
Education
Female
Genetics, Population
Humans
Longevity genetics
Menarche genetics
Menopause genetics
Middle Aged genetics
Phenotype genetics
Physical Fitness genetics
Religion genetics
Reproduction genetics
Selection, Genetic genetics
Twins genetics
SUPPLEMENTARY MESH
GENE SYMBOLS
CHEMICALS
OTHER ID's