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The evolution lactose tolerance in dairying populations

Gerbault, Pascale; Walker, Catherine; Brown, Katherine; Yonova-DOing, Ekaterina; Thomas, Mark G; (2017) The evolution lactose tolerance in dairying populations. In: Lee-Thorpe, J and Katzenburg, MA, (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Diet. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Among the biocultural innovations associated with the Neolithic, dairying and the evolution of lactose tolerance is the most studied. Expression of the enzyme lactase, which digests the milk sugar lactose, decreases after weaning in mammals, including most humans. However, some humans express lactase throughout adulthood—a trait known as lactase persistence (LP). Striking observations about LP evolution include: (i) a strong correlation between LP frequency and a history of herding and dairying; (ii) genetic patterns indicating LP-associated variants have increased in frequency through natural selection; (iii) two of these variants have been experimentally shown to affect lactase expression in adults; and (iv) archaeological and ancient DNA data indicate dairying pre-dated the rise of LP-associated variants. This chapter reviews the biology and archaeology of LP, examines some of the hypotheses formulated to explain its distribution, and outlines how simulation modelling has contributed to our understanding of its evolution.

Type: Book chapter
Title: The evolution lactose tolerance in dairying populations
ISBN: 9780191756887
ISBN-13: 9780199694013
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199694013.013.12
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199694013.013...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: lactase persistence, genetic adaptation, dietary transition, Neolithic, milk
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10148059
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