Gene Shortage

Research shows that missing copies of genes or other sections of DNA could be responsible for up to half of the genetic impact on our height. The genetic abnormalities – known as copy number variants (CNV) – are alterations within the chromosome  which means a cell has either too many or too few copies of a slice of our genetic code. Although approximately 0.4% of the genomes of unrelated people typically differ with respect to copy number researchers found that people with unusually large deletions have a tendency to be shorter in stature, about half a cm for each million CNV’s. Usually these deletions are inherited from one’s parents, but not always.

Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, who led the study of a combined 11.300 people, found that for every million individual deletions people lost one eighth of an inch in height. It shows a small but firm link between the amount of genetic material missing and a decrease in height. Curiously enough the trend stood up regardless of which genes were missing. Sometimes evolution means simplification. Less is less, and that’s more.

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