A reference material for the genetic structure of Norway published
In a collaboration with deCODE Genetics, we were able to genotype a relatively representative cohort of the Norwegian population to generate a reference material for the genetic structure of Norway. “Somewhat surprisingly, no such study has previously characterized the genetic structure of Norway to any significant detail, and we are thrilled to provide this for future reference”, says professor Eivind Hovig. Among the novel findings is that historically there has been more limited genetic variation in the southern Norwegian counties of Agder, Telemark and Rogaland, indicating a level of genetic isolation.
Until now, there has been a lack of studies on the genetic structure of Norway utilizing the high-throughput genotyping platforms that have been available for the last ten to twenty years. Based on a family biobank having geographic county of residence information on the individuals, it was possible to use frequent genetic variants to map the structure of the country. The main structures are depicted in the figure below, where each dot represents an individual. As expected, we find a main component of the structure is represented by the Sami, as well as significant structure in a north-south-direction, in addition to features related to the difficult travel routes in older times, causing limitations to the flow of gene variants in the population. There is also evidence genetic influence of Sweden towards the border counties. We will pursue the data further in the future along several lines of research, including studying the genetic variation for novel reference versions of the human genome, and to look at different types of genetic variation in the data we have available, such as copy number variants.