Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science
Following the success of the Human Genome Project, the subject of human variation and the adaptation of human populations to their environments has continued to attract substantial research interest. However, there also is ongoing controversy as to whether or not improved biological fitness via genetic selection should be regarded as the essential component of adaptation/adaptability, or equivalent weights should be given to physiological and cultural attributes. The profile and inheritance of skin colour-determining genes such as ASIP and OCA2 in different human populations illustrate contrasting aspects of this issue. The implications and outcomes of adaptation under differing environmental settings are assessed in biological and cultural terms, with particular focus on four skin pigment-associated pathologies: skin cancers and melanoma, nutritional rickets in childhood, age-related osteomalacia, and oculocutaneous albinism.