This “family tree of all of humanity” shows how all of us are linked
, 2022-03-26 02:00:00,
Genetic research has exploded in the past two decades — since the Human Genome Project, the first draft of an entire human genome — was completed.
We now can predict an embryo’s genetic disease risk, and we’ve sequenced ancient human DNA found in cave dirt. And while the Human Genome Project had cost three billion dollars, companies today claim to be able to sequence an entire genome for just one hundred bucks.
“This genealogy allows us to see how every person’s genetic sequence relates to every other.”
But if you thought Bacon’s Law was cool (where any actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon through only six degrees of separation), researchers have taken a significant step to map the genetic ties between every person who ever lived. They’ve created the “first draft” of a family tree that tracks our shared history.
Building a family tree: Over 120 genetic biobanks have sprung up across the world during the past thirty years. These banks contain genetic samples people donated for research — from small university biobanks to large government-supported repositories. We’ve sequenced hundreds of thousands of individuals, including many long-deceased people.
With the recently increased ease in DNA sequencing comes a vast potential to create a detailed picture of how human populations evolved. The research possibilities are huge.
But there is a major challenge: combining the data into a single, usable format is difficult. Each dataset differs in how it was collected, the location, and how the information was processed and analyzed.
A team from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute wanted to overcome that hurdle. They designed an algorithm to handle the currently available massive datasets. The robust datasets include millions of…
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