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Scientists Unveil a Tool That Can Predict Eye, Hair and Skin Color From DNA Sample

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DNA
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Researchers have developed a novel web tool that can accurately predict eye, hair and skin color from even a small DNA sample, an advance that can be used when standard forensic profiling is not helpful.

The “HIrisPlex-S DNA test” system is capable of generating all three pigment traits from human biological material together using a freely available web tool.

The tool is designed to be used when standard forensic DNA profiling is not helpful because no reference DNA exists against which to compare the evidence sample.

The study, conducted on mice, found that genetic variations in the genes that codes for protein POU6F2 may affect the structure of the eye and increase a person's risk of glaucoma. Pixabay
Eye, representational image. pixabay

“We have previously provided law enforcement and anthropologists with DNA tools for eye colour and for combined eye and hair colour, but skin colour has been more difficult,” said Susan Walsh, forensic geneticist at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the US.

Users, such as law enforcement officials or anthropologists, can enter relevant data using a laboratory DNA analysis tool, and the web tool will predict the pigment profile of the DNA donor.

“Importantly, we are directly predicting actual skin colour divided into five subtypes — very pale, pale, intermediate, dark and dark to black — using DNA markers from the genes that determine an individual’s skin coloration.

"This study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilizing carbohydrates to burning fat," said David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and the paper's another senior author.
DNA, Pixabay

“If anyone asks an eyewitness what they saw, the majority of time they mention hair colour and skin colour. What we are doing is using genetics to take an objective look at what they saw,” Walsh said.

Also Read: This DNA Test Can Screen Your Baby For 193 Genetic Diseases

The results are published in the journal, Forensic Science International: Genetics.

The innovative high-probability and high-accuracy complete pigmentation profile web tool is available online without charge, the researchers said. (IANS)

Next Story

Scientists to Detect and Count Stranded Whales from Space

It is hoped that in the future the technique will lead to real-time information as stranding events happen

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Scientists, Whales, Space
Now we have a higher resolution 'window' on our planet, satellite imagery may be a fast and cost-effective alternative to aerial surveys allowing us to assess the extent of mass whale stranding events, especially in remote and inaccessible areas. Pixabay

Analysing satellite images may help scientists detect and count stranded whales from space, new research has found.

In a study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers tested a new detection method using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite images from space tech compnay Maxar Technologies.

“This is an exciting development in monitoring whales from space,” said lead author Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey.

“Now we have a higher resolution ‘window’ on our planet, satellite imagery may be a fast and cost-effective alternative to aerial surveys allowing us to assess the extent of mass whale stranding events, especially in remote and inaccessible areas.”

Scientists, Whales, Space
In a study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers tested a new detection method using Very High Resolution (VHR) satellite images from space tech compnay Maxar Technologies. Pixabay

It is hoped that in the future the technique will lead to real-time information as stranding events happen.

The study by scientists from British Antarctic Survey and four Chilean research institutes, could revolutionise how stranded whales, that are dead in the water or beached, are detected in remote places.

In 2015, over 340 whales, most of them sea whales, were involved in a mass-stranding in a remote region of Chilean Patagonia.

The stranding was not discovered for several weeks owing to the remoteness of the region. Aerial and boat surveys assessed the extent of the mortality several months after discovery.

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The researchers studied satellite images covering thousands of kilometres of coastline, which provided an early insight into the extent of the mortality.

They could identify the shape, size and colour of the whales, especially after several weeks when the animals turned pink and orange as they decomposed.

A greater number of whales were counted in the images captured soon after the stranding event than from the local surveys.

Scientists, Whales, Space
“This is an exciting development in monitoring whales from space,” said lead author Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey. Pixabay

“The causes of marine mammal strandings are poorly understood and therefore information gathered helps understand how these events may be influenced by overall health, diet, environmental pollution, regional oceanography, social structures and climate change,” said study co-author and whale biologist Jennifer Jackson at British Antarctic Survey.

Also Read- Climate change, Pollution Causing Irreversible Damage to New Zealand’s Marine Environment

“As this new technology develops, we hope it will become a useful tool for obtaining real-time information. This will allow local authorities to intervene earlier and possibly help with conservation efforts,” Jackson said. (IANS)