Did you know that people who live in different parts of China have different habits and preferences?
For example, people from southern China prefer to eat vegetables, while people from north China like to eat meat. But what causes these differences?
According to a new study published in the journal Cell in October, gene variations might be responsible for these differences, Xinhua reported.
In the study, researchers from Chinese genome-sequencing firm BGI collected genetic information from 141,431 Chinese women. The women came from 31 provinces and comprised 36 ethnic minority groups.
The researchers found that there are six gene frequencies that are different among people from both northern and southern China. They found that natural selection has played an important role in the ways that people living in different regions of China have evolved, affecting their food preferences, immunities to illness and physical traits, the New York Times reported.
The researchers reported that a variation of the gene FADS2 is more commonly found in northern people than it is in southern people. It helps people metabolize fatty acids, which suggests a diet that is rich in meat. According to Xinhua, this is due to climate differences. Northern China is at a higher latitude, which means it’s cold and dry throughout the whole year. This weather is difficult to grow vegetables in. Therefore, northerners tend to eat more meat.
The study also found differences in the immune systems of both groups. Most people in southern China carry the gene CR1, which protects against malaria. This is because malaria was once quite common in southern China. In order to survive, the genes of people in the south evolved to fight against this disease. However, people in the south are also more vulnerable to certain blood-borne illnesses, as they lack the genes to stop them.
Genes can also cause physical differences between northerners and southerners. Most northerners have the ABCC11 gene, which causes dry earwax, less body odor and fewer sweat secretions, The New York Times reported. These physical differences are also more beneficial to living in cold environments. Southerners are less likely to have this gene, as it did not evolve in their population.
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