Considering all DNA is referencing one African American male… My take away is that 300,000,000 base pairs of DNA separate us from him. But in all seriousness… This could cause break through in the “evolved all at once” theory. The theory that we do not share a genetic line and we are not “races” of humans but are in fact, breeds of humans.Scott Robbins
There’s a Huge Problem With the Core of the Human Genome Project
It starts with the fact that “Human” is not plural.
The Human Genome Project, which began in the 1990s, was Homo sapiens’ successful attempt to map out the entirety of our species’ DNA. It produced the human reference genome, a finely polished collection of human DNA that’s crucial for genetics research and genetics testing services around the world. Integral as it has been to the science community, two researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that the reference genome is missing a piece or two — well, 296,485,284 base pairs of DNA, to be exact.
The reference genome is an essential map of human genetic material that is used as a basis for comparison. When we sequence our own DNA for insight into health, family history, and future disease risk, we chop up the sequence into lots of little pieces and compare stretches of it to the reference genome, looking for areas where we differ. The fundamental problem with this, the scientists write in a 2018 paper in Nature Genetics, is that the reference genome is based largely on a single person. Considering the myriad genetic differences among the 7.7 billion people alive today, that’s obviously not ideal.
Professor of computer science and biostatistics Steven Salzberg, Ph.D., and Rachel Sherman, a Ph.D. candidate, make the case that this single reference genome doesn’t capture the diversity of human genetics. Some populations, they add, differ too much from this reference genome. To make their case, they refer to the genomes of 910 individuals from twenty different countries, all of pan-African descent.
In the DNA of these individuals, the team found 300 million pieces of DNA common that don’t exist in our “reference” genome. If we disregard this much material, says Salzberg, we’d inevitably miss key insights into the health and history of specific populations. They too, are human, so shouldn’t they be represented in the “human” reference genome?