Case Studies

Humans: Lactose tolerance

The majority of people living today are unable to digest lactose in adulthood. In this activity students will analyse DNA data from different human populations to work out which variations in the human genome have enabled some adult humans to consume dairy products without adverse side-effects.

Students will also discover which genetic variants are associated with lactose tolerance (or lactase persistence) in different populations. A statistical test (chi-squared) will be used to work out whether specific genetic changes have significant effects on lactase persistence.

Case study written by: Steve Cross, Bronwyn Terrill and their colleagues at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton.