Phylogenetic analysis of the evolution of lactose digestion in adults

Human Biology Vol/Iss. 81(5/6) Wayne State University Press Published In Pages: 597-619
By Holden, Clare, Mace, Ruth


The ability of adults to digest lactose is common only in populations of European and circum-Mediterranean origin, a distribution thought to be a result of genetic adaptation to drinking milk from domestic livestock. Two additional hypotheses have been proposed to explain the distribution of high lactose digestion capacity: (1) supplemental calcium in high-latitude populations prone to vitamin D deficiency and (2) maintenance of water and electrolytes in the body in highly arid environments. However, these hypotheses are confounded by the shared ancestry of populations whose lactose digestion capability has been tested. Therefore, the authors test all three hypotheses using a phylogenetic comparative method for 62 cultures.

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:erik.ringen