Is craniofacial morphology and body composition related by common genes: Comparative analysis of two ethnically diverse populations

Sudipta Ghosh, Melody Kasher, Ida Malkina, Gregory Livshits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The overarching hypothesis of the present paper is that ethnically and/or genetically diverse human populations may exhibit similarity in correlations between various aspects of human phenotypes due to the morphological integration process during the ontogenetic stages. To test this we investigated whether an association between craniofacial (CF) features and body composition (BC) variations is present in humans and the extent to which such possible associations are comparable in different populations. Furthermore, the paper examines the contribution of common genetic (additive) and shared familial environmental factors in assessing the correlation between CF and BC characteristics in humans. Materials and Methods: Two pedigree-based samples were collected from two distinct populations, including India (Santhal) and Europe (Chuvash). Canonical correlation analysis was used to compare the association between CF and BC characteristics in the two studied samples. The contribution of genetic and familial environmental factors on the correlation between CF and BC features was analyzed through variance decomposition analysis by implementing the Mendelian Analysis package (MAN). Results: Our study suggests that CF morphology is significantly (p < 0.001) associated with BC variation in both samples. CF characteristics and BC phenotypes revealed a consistent trend in both samples where condensed and broad CF morphology was significantly associated with increased fat accumulation, with slight variations between the Santhal and Chuvash samples. Despite the variations observed between the samples, the heritability estimates were impressively equivalent for traits like total facial height (55.6%Santhalvs.56.1%Chuvash) and nasal index (42.8%Santhalvs. 43.3%Chuvash). Discussion: The genetic contribution of CF morphology appeared to be extensive and the contribution of common genetic and shared family environmental correlations between CF and BC measures were suggestively substantial. Accordingly, these correlations were consistently observed across ethnically diverse populations, despite drastic morphological differences between the samples under comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-261
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume176
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Chuvash
  • Santhal
  • craniofacial traits
  • heritability
  • quantitative genetics

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