Worldwide map shows frequency of an adaptive allele to a vegetarian diet.
By using reference data from the 1000 Genomes Project, a Cornell research team provided evolutionary evidence that the vegetarian diet, over many generations, may have driven the higher frequency of a mutation in the Indian population.
The mutation, called rs66698963 and found in the FADS2 gene, is an insertion or deletion of a sequence of DNA that regulates the expression of two genes, FADS1 and FADS2. These genes are key to making long chain polyunsaturated fats. Among these, arachidonic acid is a key target of the pharmaceutical industry because it is a central culprit for those at risk for heart disease, colon cancer, and many other inflammation-related conditions.
Treating individuals according to whether they carry 0, 1, or 2 copies of the insertion, and their influence on fatty acid metabolites, can be an important consideration for precision medicine and nutrition.