Human fertility, molecular genetics, and natural selection in modern societies

Tropf, Felix C., Stulp, Gert, Barban, Nicola, Visscher, Peter M., Yang, Jian, Snieder, Harold and Mills, Melinda C. (2015) Human fertility, molecular genetics, and natural selection in modern societies. Plos One, 10 6: 1-14. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126821

Author Tropf, Felix C.
Stulp, Gert
Barban, Nicola
Visscher, Peter M.
Yang, Jian
Snieder, Harold
Mills, Melinda C.
Title Human fertility, molecular genetics, and natural selection in modern societies
Journal name Plos One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2015-06-03
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0126821
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 6
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 14
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Subject 1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Abstract Research on genetic influences on human fertility outcomes such as number of children ever born (NEB) or the age at first childbirth (AFB) has been solely based on twin and family-designs that suffer from problematic assumptions and practical limitations. The current study exploits recent advances in the field of molecular genetics by applying the genomic-relationship-matrix based restricted maximum likelihood (GREML) methods to quantify for the first time the extent to which common genetic variants influence the NEB and the AFB of women. Using data from the UK and the Netherlands (N = 6,758), results show significant additive genetic effects on both traits explaining 10% (SE = 5) of the variance in the NEB and 15% (SE = 4) in the AFB. We further find a significant negative genetic correlation between AFB and NEB in the pooled sample of –0.62 (SE = 0.27, p-value = 0.02). This finding implies that individuals with genetic predispositions for an earlier AFB had a reproductive advantage and that natural selection operated not only in historical, but also in contemporary populations. The observed postponement in the AFB across the past century in Europe contrasts with these findings, suggesting an evolutionary override by environmental effects and underscoring that evolutionary predictions in modern human societies are not straight forward. It emphasizes the necessity for an integrative research design from the fields of genetics and social sciences in order to understand and predict fertility outcomes. Finally, our results suggest that we may be able to find genetic variants associated with human fertility when conducting GWAS-meta analyses with sufficient sample size.
Keyword Genome-wide association
Contemporary human-population
Common snps explain
Danish twin
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID 452-10-012
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article # e0126821.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
Official 2016 Collection
UQ Diamantina Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 24 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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