Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

The royal wedding and outbreeding

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApril 29, 2011 11:14 PM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In the wake of the post from earlier this week on the inbreeding within the House of Windsor (and current lack thereof), Luke Jostins, a subject of the British monarch, has a nice informative post up, Inbreeding, Genetic Disease and the Royal Wedding. This tidbit is of particular interest:

In fact, eleventh cousins is a pretty low degree of relatedness, by the standard of these things. A study of inbreeding in European populations found that couples from the UK are, on average, as genetically related as 6th cousins (the study looked at inbreeding in Scots, and in children of one Orkadian and one non-Orkadian. No English people, but I would be very suprised if we differed significantly). 6th cousins share about 0.006% of their DNA, and thus have about a 0.06% chance of developing a genetic disease via a common ancestor. Giving that the Royal Family are better than most at genealogy, we can probably conclude that the royal couple are less closely related than the average UK couple, and thus their children are less likely than most to suffer from a genetic disease. Good news for them, bad news for geneticists, perhaps?

That's an interesting flip side of aristocratic consanginuity, aristocratic cosmopolitanism. For example, Victoria of Sweden, the heir to the throne, has a Brazilian maternal grandmother and German maternal grandfather. Her father is by and large of the Northern European aristocracy,* but because he is of the House of Bernadotte his paternal lineage is rooted in a region on the alpine fringe of southwest France. The European aristocracy then serves as an interesting window into how cultural context can shape genetic variation. Also, a sidelight of curiosity is that Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton) has a maternal grandmother who comes from a lineage of laborers and miners. That's certainly a commentary on the possibilities for social mobility. There is a strong likelihood that a 20th century working class laborer will be the great-great grandparent of the British monarch at some point in the 21st century.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In