Have Blue Eyes? Then You have a Gene Mutation
According to genetic scientists who undertook a series of DNA tests on the colour of our eyes, those of us with blue eyes are not strictly speaking, normal. Scientists say that brown is the default colour for our eyes and the blue is a result of a mutation in our genes.The tests were carried out by scientists on volunteers. The test results revealed that 99.5% of the blue-eyed people that volunteered had the same small mutation in the gene that determines the colour of the iris.
It’s In The Genes
The tests show that everyone who has blue eyes can trace their ancestry back to just one person. It’s thought this ancestor is from the Black Sea region and lived about 10,000 years ago. The fact that all the volunteers who had the test had the same mutation in their genes points to the fact blue eyes are accountable to just one ancestor who passed on his gene to all the subsequent people currently alive with blue eyes in the world. It’s an astonishing thought, but a DNA test can reveal the secrets of our ancestry as well as highlight how interconnected the human race is, in all its diversity. (For an explanation about technical terms related to DNA, refer to our glossary on DNA testing).
The study into blue eyes was headed by Professor Hans Eiberg at the University of Copenhagen, where he and his colleagues conducted the test on volunteers. Although the specifics of the time of the mutation are unsure, the scientists say it probably occurred around 10,000 years ago as humans expanded into Europe. The researchers were quoted in the journal Human Genetics: “The mutations responsible for blue eye colour most likely originate from the north-west part of the Black Sea region, where the great agricultural migration of the northern part of Europe took place in the Neolithic periods about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.”
Turning Brown Eyes Blue
According to the test, brown is the normal colour for eyes, but the mutation in the gene OCA2 meant disrupted melanin production in the iris turned the eye blue. The test revealed that it didn’t matter if you were fair skinned and Scandinavian or dark and from the Middle East, blue eyes shared the same sequence in the OCA2 gene. “This to me indicates very strongly that there must have been a single, common ancestor of all these people,” Professor Eiberg said.
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