Friday, February 29, 2008

Debate about genetic ancestry tests in Science

In last week's Science, there was a reply by Tony Frudakis, from DNAPrint Genomics, to a paper written by Bolnick et al. a few months back. Basically, Bolnick et al. say that the tests are imperfect and misleading, and the response by Tony Frudakis is that they have thoroughly quantified how imperfect the test is and present this information to customers. Their website does indeed discuss and deal with many of these issues. Bolnick et al. then respond to Frudakis' reply.
Bolnick et al.'s best point about the test, in my opinion, is:
It is also U.S.-biased because it represents a specifically American racial understanding of human difference.
also from Bolnick, this one might be an important consideration, and reflects the problem of AIM allele frequencies in the admixed population changing since initial admixture, although in the Americas, 400 years since admixture is a relatively short time period for this to become a problem, ...maybe?
On the basis of the information provided by DNAPrint Genomics, it is clear that some AIMs are skin pigmentation alleles and others are blood protein alleles involved in malarial resistance (1, 4, 9-11). It is therefore important to consider whether these markers measure ancestry alone, or whether they also reflect shared environmental exposures (and thus are not always indicative of shared ancestry)

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