A seleção natural numa população humana contemporânea

terça-feira, outubro 27, 2009

Natural selection in a contemporary human population

Sean G. Byarsa, Douglas Ewbankb, Diddahally R. Govindarajuc and Stephen C. Stearnsa,1

+ Author Affiliations

aDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8102;

bPopulation Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6299; and

cDepartment of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118-2526

Edited by Peter T. Ellison, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved September 16, 2009 (received for review June 25, 2009)

Our aims were to demonstrate that natural selection is operating on contemporary humans, predict future evolutionary change for specific traits with medical significance, and show that for some traits we can make short-term predictions about our future evolution. To do so, we measured the strength of selection, estimated genetic variation and covariation, and predicted the response to selection for women in the Framingham Heart Study, a project of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Boston University that began in 1948. We found that natural selection is acting to cause slow, gradual evolutionary change. The descendants of these women are predicted to be on average slightly shorter and stouter, to have lower total cholesterol levels and systolic blood pressure, to have their first child earlier, and to reach menopause later than they would in the absence of evolution. Selection is tending to lengthen the reproductive period at both ends. To better understand and predict such changes, the design of planned large, long-term, multicohort studies should include input from evolutionary biologists.

evolutionary ratesheritabilityHomo sapiensmedical traits


1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: stephen.stearns@yale.eduAuthor contributions: D.R.G. and S.C.S. designed research; S.G.B. performed research; S.G.B. and D.E. analyzed data; and D.R.G. and S.C.S. wrote the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.


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