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Adaptation of human skin color in various populations

Deng, Lian, Xu, Shuhua
Hereditas 2018 v.155 no.1 pp. 1
color, genes, humans, loci, minorities (people), natural selection, phenotypic variation, pigmentation, skin (animal)
BACKGROUND: Skin color is a well-recognized adaptive trait and has been studied extensively in humans. Understanding the genetic basis of adaptation of skin color in various populations has many implications in human evolution and medicine. DISCUSSION: Impressive progress has been made recently to identify genes associated with skin color variation in a wide range of geographical and temporal populations. In this review, we discuss what is currently known about the genetics of skin color variation. We enumerated several cases of skin color adaptation in global modern humans and archaic hominins, and illustrated why, when, and how skin color adaptation occurred in different populations. Finally, we provided a summary of the candidate loci associated with pigmentation, which could be a valuable reference for further evolutionary and medical studies. CONCLUSION: Previous studies generally indicated a complex genetic mechanism underlying the skin color variation, expanding our understanding of the role of population demographic history and natural selection in shaping genetic and phenotypic diversity in humans. Future work is needed to dissect the genetic architecture of skin color adaptation in numerous ethnic minority groups around the world, which remains relatively obscure compared with that of major continental groups, and to unravel the exact genetic basis of skin color adaptation.