Gene Variant Points to Starvation’s Evolutionary Legacy

Reconstructing the evolutionary history of a particular variant of the growth hormone receptor gene ( GHR ) variant—the so-called GHRd3 variant, which is defined by a deletion of the gene’s third exon—researchers have found that its frequency declined sharply around 40,000 years ago. Follow-up experiments in mice pointed to a potential explanation for why: the deletion appeared to limit male animals’ size when fed a calorie-restricted diet. This sort of growth limitation could help males survive lean times but limit their reproductive success in times of plenty.

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