On the origin of tibetans and their genetic basis in adapting high-altitude environments

Binbin Wang, Yong Biao Zhang, Feng Zhang, Hongbin Lin, Xumin Wang, Ning Wan, Zhenqing Ye, Haiyu Weng, Lili Zhang, Xin Li, Jiangwei Yan, Panpan Wang, Tingting Wu, Longfei Cheng, Jing Wang, Duen Mei Wang, Xu Ma, Jun Yu

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120 Scopus citations


Since their arrival in the Tibetan Plateau during the Neolithic Age, Tibetans have been well-adapted to extreme environmental conditions and possess genetic variation that reflect their living environment and migratory history. To investigate the origin of Tibetans and the genetic basis of adaptation in a rigorous environment, we genotyped 30 Tibetan individuals with more than one million SNP markers. Our findings suggested that Tibetans, together with the Yi people, were descendants of Tibeto-Burmans who diverged from ancient settlers of East Asia. The valleys of the Hengduan Mountain range may be a major migration route. We also identified a set of positively-selected genes that belong to functional classes of the embryonic, female gonad, and blood vessel developments, as well as response to hypoxia. Most of these genes were highly correlated with population-specific and beneficial phenotypes, such as high infant survival rate and the absence of chronic mountain sickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17002
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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