Category Epigenetics

The Tall Dutch

The Dutch are the tallest people in the world: its women stand almost 1.71 metres (5.6 feet) tall, and its men 1.84 metres. But how the Dutch became the world’s tallest people is still debated. Now a Dutch scientist, Gert Stulp, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that tall Dutch men [...]

700 Genetic Factors (for now)

Since 2007 researchers of the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium are quickly uncovering the polygenic traits that influence human height.  Recently they analysed data from the genomes of another 253,288 subjects and were able to identify 697 gene variants, the pieces of DNA that vary from person to person, in 424 gene regions as related [...]

Catch-Up Growth

Catch-up growth is the accelerated growth of an organism following a period of slowed development. Such slowing down is most often the result of environmental influences such as food scarcity, sudden changes in temperature, or other environmental stress factors. After the situation is normalised, growth not only returns but speeds up to compensate for lost [...]

FOXO3a

Recent studies have identified the FOXO3a (Forkhead Box 3a) transcription gene as an important regulator of morphological scaling. It’s a key regulatory gene in a nutrient- and energy-sensing biological pathway (insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway),that throughout our evolution was conserved from yeast to humans. FOXO3a anticipates food scarcity by slight alterations to its functionality with resultant phenotypic changes including [...]

Microbial Temper Tantrums

In stressful conditions, cells must prevent the initiation of replication and shift their priorities to protective functions. In other words: they must stop division and growth. Experiments in bacteria at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have uncovered the mechanism that translates stress into blocked cell growth. According to molecular biologist Peter Chien stressful conditions causes proteins [...]

Pit-1

Human height is the result of how genetic height potential is turned into reality by circumstance. From the first whispers of life in the womb, the DNA in the nuclei of the embryo’s cells ‘monitors’ what situation to expect at birth, and develops the body accordingly. While genes provide us with the recipes for development, [...]