05 March 2012

People of the British Isles: preliminary analysis

It seems to have been a long while waiting for results from the ongoing UK-wide
project (The People of the British Isles (PoBI), http://www. peopleofthebritishisles.org), funded by the Wellcome Trust, to set up a well characterised and carefully collected UK-control population as a resource that can be used by the research community.

The European Journal of Human Genetics has now published People of the British Isles: preliminary analysis of genotypes and surnames in a UK-control population (pdf).

The paper documents the work to develop a fine spatial scale DNA database, with supporting information. It consists of 4000 samples, the majority of which fit the criteria of having all four grandparents from approximately the same rural area. Basic information on numbers, gender and the age distribution of the sample are given and an analysis of the distribution of surnames. Unsurprisingly more common names have a more widespread distribution whereas uncommon names are usually localized.

As it's funded by the Wellcome Foundation the primary interest group is health. A preliminary analysis of a subset of the DNA sample includes not only results for the Y chromosome but also for various significant genes, notably the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene complex on chromosome six.

This is only a preliminary analysis. The paper notes a distinction in the genetic results between some localized and non-localized surnames. I'll be interested to see further analysis.

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