the study of the genetic structure of human populations
Over the twentieth century, population genetics has enabled progressively finer subpopulation specification. This chapter traces the development of concepts and methods, beginning with the use of blood types to differentiate human populations into Mendelian groups. As variation in blood grouping began to be studied in terms of constituent proteins, and other genetic marker systems became available, further subpopulation differentiation was possible, so that spatial distribution could identify broadly defined continental groups across the world. Following the discovery of DNA structure, molecular genetics has steadily expanded the range of identifiable subpopulations, opening up further sources of population variation. Markers of genetic inheritance visible in the genetic make-up of regional populations enable major historical population movements to be traced, an approach which is shown to illuminate the historical peopling of Britain.
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