Natural selection leaves a detectable footprint in DNA sequences that can be used to infer which part of a genome that has been involved in the adaptation of an organism to its environment. This principle provides opportunities for discovering variants of important functional effects. In this talk, I will give three examples of this principle applied to human genetics. The first example concerns physiological adaptation to the hypoxic environment of high-altitude at the Tibetan plateau. The second example investigates the adaptation of the indigenous people of Greenland, the Inuit, to life in the Arctic, including low temperatures and a diet based primarily on fish and marine mammals and rich in ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The third example concerns the Bajau people, and group of people known as sea-nomads who are specialized in diving and traditionally obtain almost all of their food by free-diving.
Rasmus Nielsen — Dr. Nielsen received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1998 from the Department of Integrative Biology. He then did a two-year postdoc at Harvard before starting in a faculty position at the Department of Biometrics at Cornell. In 2004, he moved to University of Copenhagen as a Professor of Biology, before finally moving back to Berkeley in 2008 as a Professor of Computational Biology in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Department of Statistics. His research is on statistical and computational methods in evolutionary biology, population genetics, and human genetics. Many of the methods he has developed are heavily used by other researchers, including the phylogeny-based methods for detecting positive selection implemented in PAML, the methods for inferring demographic histories implemented in the IM and IMa programs, the method for detecting selective sweeps implemented in the SweepFinder programs, and the methods for analysing low-coverage Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data implemented in ANGSD.