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Conversation with Lluis Quintana-Murci. Part 1

Lluis Quintana-Murci. Institut Pasteur in Paris
Today we have with us Lluis Quintana-Murci. Lluis is working at the Institut Pasteur in Paris where he has been for many years, and he is going to talk with us on what he is working in his lab in Paris, in which he is trying to understand how the genomes may be read into different and very interesting ways. By one hand, trying to solve, to trace back the population history of different populations. He has been working in populations, I would say, all over the world, but mostly in Africa and Asia. And also how in our genome we may read the adaptation and we may read how humans have evolved under natural selection.
His laboratory combines population genetics, cellular approaches, computational modeling, and develops new statistical frameworks working very close to other people trying to understand these ideas of population history and adaptation, mostly related to the immune system. Lluis, what does it mean that the genome may help to reconstruct the human history? Basically it means that we can use our genome like we were archeologists. We can investigate the depth of the diversity of the genome of different human populations, and by kind of comparing how they resemble at the genome level, or how different they are, we can go back in time and understand when they started to separate or how much they have exchanged between them.
So, what does it mean that you can trace back the genome? Our genome has footprints of our past? Absolutely. Don’t forget that today we are comparing modern human populations and all this genome diversity among them. We can go back in time and understand their demographic history, meaning when they originated, how much they exchanged migrants, when they split from each other – their origins basically – but also, and I would say most importantly, we can also trace their adaptive history, meaning how, since they left Africa, (into) Europe, Asia, Oceania, how they have adapted to different nutritional, climatic, and pathogenic environments. So you mean that our Out of Africa origin may be seen in our genome? Absolutely.
Because don’t forget that Europeans and Asians basically present much less diversity than Africans, meaning that they are younger. And most importantly, Europeans and Asians find their roots in African diversity, confirming the recent and African origin of all modern humans.

Lluís Quintana-Murci, Pasteur Institut in Paris.

His research focuses on different ways of reading genomes. He is trying to trace the population history of humans, mostly in Africa and Asia, and investigating how genomes may reflect processes of adaptation, that is, evolution under natural selection.

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