Human genetic variation particularly in Africa is still poorly understood. This is despite a consensus on the large African effective population size compared to populations from other continents. Based on sequencing of the mitochondrial Cytochrome C Oxidase subunit II (MT-CO2), and genome wide microsatellite data we observe evidence suggesting the effective size (Ne) of humans to be larger than the current estimates, with a foci of increased genetic diversity in east Africa, and a population size of east Africans being at least 2-6 fold larger than other populations. Both phylogenetic and network analysis indicate that east Africans possess more ancestral lineages in comparison to various continental populations placing them at the root of the human evolutionary tree. Our results also affirm east Africa as the likely spot from which migration towards Asia has taken place. The study reflects the spectacular level of sequence variation within east Africans in comparison to the global sample, and appeals for further studies that may contribute towards filling the existing gaps in the database. The implication of these data to current genomic research, as well as the need to carry out defined studies of human genetic variation that includes more African populations; particularly east Africans is paramount.
The in-vitro reverse transcription of RNA to its complementary DNA, catalyzed by the enzyme reverse transcriptase, is the most fundamental step in the quantitative RNA detection in genomic studies. As such, this step should be as analytically sensitive, efficient and reproducible as possible, especially when dealing with degraded or low copy RNA samples. While there are many reverse transcriptases in the market, all claiming to be highly sensitive, there is need for a systematic independent comparison of their applicability in quantification of rare RNA transcripts or low copy RNA, such as those obtained from archival tissues.
Archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) human tissue collections are typically in poor states of storage across the developing world. With advances in biomolecular techniques, these extraordinary and virtually untapped resources have become an essential part of retrospective epidemiological studies. To successfully use such tissues in genomic studies, scientists require high nucleic acid yields and purity. In spite of the increasing number of FFPE tissue kits available, few studies have analyzed their applicability in recovering high-quality nucleic acids from archived human autopsy samples. Here we provide a study involving 10 major extraction methods used to isolate total nucleic acid from FFPE tissues ranging in age from 3 to 13years. Although all 10 methods recovered quantifiable amounts of DNA, only 6 recovered quantifiable RNA, varying considerably and generally yielding lower DNA concentrations. Overall, we show quantitatively that TrimGens WaxFree method and our in-house phenol-chloroform extraction method recovered the highest yields of amplifiable DNA, with considerable polymerase chain reaction (PCR) inhibition, whereas Ambions RecoverAll method recovered the most amplifiable RNA.
Hierarchical properties characterize elephant fission-fusion social organization whereby stable groups of individuals coalesce into higher order groups or split in a predictable manner. This hierarchical complexity is rare among animals and, as such, an examination of the factors driving its emergence offers unique insight into the evolution of social behaviour. Investigation of the genetic basis for such social affiliation demonstrates that while the majority of core social groups (second-tier affiliates) are significantly related, this is not exclusively the case. As such, direct benefits received through membership of these groups appear to be salient to their formation and maintenance. Further analysis revealed that the majority of groups in the two higher social echelons (third and fourth tiers) are typically not significantly related. The majority of third-tier members are matrilocal, carrying the same mtDNA control region haplotype, while matrilocality among fourth-tier groups was slightly less than expected at random. Comparison of results to those from a less disturbed population suggests that human depredation, leading to social disruption, altered the genetic underpinning of social relations in the study population. These results suggest that inclusive fitness benefits may crystallize elephant hierarchical social structuring along genetic lines when populations are undisturbed. However, indirect benefits are not critical to the formation and maintenance of second-, third- or fourth-tier level bonds, indicating the importance of direct benefits in the emergence of complex, hierarchical social relations among elephants. Future directions and conservation implications are discussed.
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