EGI Notes

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Genetic Variation and Environmental Interactions

Genetic variation and environment.

Of interest, re: genetics, culture, and race, I note this methodology paper:

Identifying interactions between genetics and the environment (GxE) remains challenging. We have developed EAGLE, a hierarchical Bayesian model for identifying GxE interactions based on associations between environmental variables and allele-specific expression. Combining whole-blood RNA-seq with extensive environmental annotations collected from 922 human individuals, we identified 35 GxE interactions, compared with only four using standard GxE interaction testing. EAGLE provides new opportunities for researchers to identify GxE interactions using functional genomic data.                    

Basic findings were that environmental risk factors (e.g., substance abuse, exercise, BMI) can interact with genetic variation and affect gene expression. But the effects were modest, these were not large influences compared to other possible (e.g., additive) effects, and may have been affected by confounding factors (a possible problem when probing interactions for which there can be many variables).  In addition, some of the observed effects may have been in part epigenetic, presumably modifications due to environmental factors, rather than interactions between those factors and gene sequence variation itself.

On the one hand, the effects, being modest, cannot plausibly be invoked by anti-genetic determinists to prop up environment as the primary factor affecting gene expression (and, hence, eventual phenotype).  On the other hand, effects were observed, and these cannot be dismissed.  Of interest would be effects and interactions due to environmental factors other than those cited above.

Can culture, through its many manifestations, shaping the environment, interact with genetic variation to affect gene expression and, thus, phenotypic outcomes?  Would different ethnic and racial groups, characterized by group-specific genetic variation, exhibit variable gene expression when immersed in the same cultural environment?  Conversely, would genetically similar individuals and groups exhibit altered gene expression when placed in radically different cultural environments?  

And this goes beyond the more fundamental observation that genes affect culture (through the different phenotypes of culture creators, maintainers, or destroyers) and, conversely, culture can actually affect genetic variation itself (rather than just interact with it) by exerting selective pressure favoring one genotype over another.  Gene-culture cross-talk, if you will. See this old TOQ paper I wrote some time ago for more on that topic. Also, epigenetic effects, mentioned above, are another way in which culture can affect gene expression, but not to the extent, or in the manner, than the anti-determinists fervently hope.  The basic foundation for all of this is genetic variation; there is no evading that inconvenient (for some people) truth.

In summary, all of this bolsters the importance of genetic variation and, hence, genetic interests.  It also shows how reckless the globalists are in their indiscriminate mixing of genes and cultures (in Western nations).

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