By John H. Moore
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Additional resources for Encyclopedia of Race and Racism vol. 2 (MacMillan Social Science Library)
What does all of this have to do with genetics and populations? The same principles of apportionment of variation apply to genetic data. Completing the analogy, consider the squares and triangles as equivalent to different forms of a gene and the buckets as equivalent to populations. In genetics, we refer to different forms of a gene as alleles. When looking at biochemical and molecular data, such as blood groups and DNA markers, there are standard methods for measuring the levels of within-group and among-group variation based on the relative frequency of alleles.
A simple example of how these concepts work uses an analogy based on sorting out shapes. So, if one has ten squares and ten triangles, what are the different ways these twenty objects can be placed into two buckets, with each containing half of the objects? Three different cases are illustrated in Figure 1. In case number one, the first bucket contains ten squares and the second bucket contains ten triangles. Because all of the objects in the first bucket are squares, they are by definition all the same, so there is no variation within that bucket.
Second, what is the pattern of genetic variation among populations? That is, are all populations equally related—and if not, what are the geographic and historical factors that have influenced the genetic relationship among populations? Third, do studies of the degree and pattern of human genetic variation provide any answers to questions regarding the utility of the ‘‘race’’ concept? THE APPORTIONMENT OF VARIATION One of the main interests in studies of genetic variation is the question of how variation is apportioned both within and among populations.
Encyclopedia of Race and Racism vol. 2 (MacMillan Social Science Library) by John H. Moore