Genes invest you with unique facial identity

September 14th, 2012 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Amsterdam, Sep 14 (IANS) Scientists have isolated genes that shape our facial form and structure, besides explaining why twins and siblings have more similar faces than unrelated people.

This study, carried out on behalf of the International Visible Trait Genetics (VisiGen) Consortium, used head magnetic resonance images together with portrait photographs to map facial landmarks.

Researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, then applied a genome-wide association (GWA) approach, with independent replication, to finding DNA variants involved in facial shapes in almost 10,000 individuals, the journal Public Library of Science reports.

One of the three of the five genes identified was reported to be involved in facial morphology (form and structure) in a study on children published earlier this year. The remaining two genes potentially represent completely new players in the molecular networks governing facial development, according to an Erasmus statement.

Manfred Kayser, professor from the Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, who led the study, said: “These are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology.”

“Perhaps some time it will be possible to draw a phantom portrait of a person solely from his or her DNA left behind, which provides interesting applications such as in forensics. We already can predict from DNA certain eye and hair colours with quite high accuracies,” concluded Kayser.

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