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Gee Research Blog

Write About Research – A GEE Research Blog Competition

Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:28:43 +0000

The GEE Research blog communicates UCL science with a wider, non-specialist audience, by providing short summaries of recent research in the department of UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment. This provides an opportunity to engage with a broad audience, including other academics, students, members of the public, and even businesses and policy-makers. It is a great […]

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Was Fermentation Key to Yeast Diversification?

Tue, 17 Feb 2015 15:30:43 +0000

From bread to beer, yeast has shaped our diets and our recreation for centuries. Recent research in GEE shows how humans have shaped the evolution of this important microorganism. As well as revealing the evolutionary origins of modern fission yeast, the new study published in Nature Genetics this month shows how techniques developed for detecting […]

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Planning for the Future – Resilience to Extreme Weather

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:13:14 +0000

As climate change progresses, extreme weather events are set to increase in frequency, costing billions and causing immeasurable harm to lives and livelihoods. GEE’s Professor Georgina Mace contributed to the recent Royal Society report on “Resilience to Extreme Weather”, which predicts the future impacts of increasing extreme weather events, and evaluates potential strategies for improving […]

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Forecasting Extinction

Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:33:21 +0000

Classifying a species as either extinct or extant is important if we are to quantify and monitor current rates of biodiversity loss, but it is rare that a biologist is handy to actually observe an extinction event. Finding the last member of a species is difficult, if not impossible, so extinction classifications are usually estimates […]

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Changing Perspectives in Conservation

Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:15:44 +0000

Our views of the importance of nature and our place within have changed dramatically over the the last century, and the prevailing paradigm has profound influences on conservation from the science that is conducted to the policies that are enacted. In a recent perspectives piece for Science, GEE’s Professor Georgina Mace considered the impacts that […]

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LeCHE MEETING

14 May 2010

A new study led by UCL scientists (in GEE) has found that current genetic data cannot explain why vast swathes of the world can digest milk.

Study co-author Dr Yuval Itan (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment) explains more fully what this study reveals.

The ability to digest the milk sugar lactose – also known as lactase persistence – is a selectively advantageous and recent evolutionary genetic trait, which emerged about 7,500 years ago in Europe and probably later in other parts of the world. This means that, once weaned, people in most parts of the world (large parts of Africa, most of Asia, and Oceania) cannot digest milk for the rest of their life.

However, the study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, shows that the four genetic mutations currently associated with the ability to digest milk cannot explain why many people in western and southern Africa, south eastern Europe, the Middle East, and southern and central Asia are able to digest milk. It also suggests that other genetic variants leading to the ability to digest milk exist, but have not yet been discovered.

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