It’s a very significant day in science for China: the first genetic map of the Han Chinese has been published by the American Journal of Human Genetics. The study was conducted at the Genome Institue of Singapore, and draws from 8,200 DNA samples from ethnically Han Chinese all over China and in Singapore.
Through genetic variations, the map draws a historical picture of the migration of the Han from north to south. By assessing the 0.3% variations in genetic structure, scientists are able to conclude whether someone is ethnically Han, where their ancestral place of origin is, and can even tell what dialect group of Han they belong to, as genetic variation follows changes in dialect.
More importantly, the genetic map will help scientists to understand and how genes can make people more susceptible to disease, and will help to find medical methods to treat and prevent them. All things considered, a genome map for China is a great step forward for the country. It’s also an interesting and novel way of looking at the “Nine Nations of China”, but we admit it’s not quite as entertaining a map as the ones Chinese people make for themselves.
Photo from James Fallows @ The Atlantic