A general linear model-based approach for inferring selection to climate

Srilakshmi M. Raj, Luca Pagani, Irene Gallego Romero, Toomas Kivisild, William Amos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Many efforts have been made to detect signatures of positive selection in the human genome, especially those associated with expansion from Africa and subsequent colonization of all other continents. However, most approaches have not directly probed the relationship between the environment and patterns of variation among humans. We have designed a method to identify regions of the genome under selection based on Mantel tests conducted within a general linear model framework, which we call MAntel-GLM to Infer Clinal Selection (MAGICS). MAGICS explicitly incorporates population-specific and genome-wide patterns of background variation as well as information from environmental values to provide an improved picture of selection and its underlying causes in human populations.Results: Our results significantly overlap with those obtained by other published methodologies, but MAGICS has several advantages. These include improvements that: limit false positives by reducing the number of independent tests conducted and by correcting for geographic distance, which we found to be a major contributor to selection signals; yield absolute rather than relative estimates of significance; identify specific geographic regions linked most strongly to particular signals of selection; and detect recent balancing as well as directional selection.Conclusions: We find evidence of selection associated with climate (P < 10-5) in 354 genes, and among these observe a highly significant enrichment for directional positive selection. Two of our strongest 'hits', however, ADRA2A and ADRA2C, implicated in vasoconstriction in response to cold and pain stimuli, show evidence of balancing selection. Our results clearly demonstrate evidence of climate-related signals of directional and balancing selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number87
JournalBMC genetics
StatePublished - Sep 22 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Climate
  • Environmental adaptation
  • Human evolution
  • Natural selection
  • Population genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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