The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Assessing the correlation between dermatoglyphics and genetic data in worldwide populations


Anthropology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Thursday All day, Park Concourse Add to calendar

Dermatoglyphic traits are often used as morphological proxies for genetic data to estimate population distances and population history. Using total ridge count (TRC), as opposed to individual digit ridge counts, studies on the genetics of dermal ridges have confirmed that total ridge counts are highly heritable. Based on the early development of skin ridges during prenatal development, characteristics such as ridge counts have been shown to be effectively selectively neutral. These phenotypic data have often been used as an estimate of genetic relatedness between groups, despite some suggestions that this may be misleading.

To determine if utilizing phenotypic distances would produce a significantly different result than using genetic distances, dermatoglyphic samples from continental populations were compared to corresponding genetic population sample data. Short tandem repeat (STR) data were obtained for worldwide populations using the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) database. Genetic distances for these data were calculated using Slatkin’s genetic distance, designed for microsatellite data (Slatkin, 1995). Ridge count data, consisting of 20 ridge count variables, were analyzed using Mahalanobis distances. A Mantel test was then applied to the results of both the phenotypic and genetic analyses to assess the differences between the two approaches. Preliminary results indicate that there is a difference between analyses conducted using phenotypic distances versus genetic distances, but that the differences do not strongly alter the conclusions ultimately drawn from the analyses.

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