The complex interplay between genetics, culture, and environment forms an individual's biology, influencing their behavior, choices, and health. However, to what extent information derived from this intertwined network could be quantitatively summarized to provide a glance at an individual's lifestyle is difficult to say. Here, we focused on dietary preferences as cultural proxies and genome-wide data of 543 individuals from six historical Silk Road countries: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. These lands favored the dispersal of innovations, foods, and DNA halfway across Eurasia, thus representing an ideal subject to explore interactions of cultural factors and genetic ancestry. We used discriminant analysis of principal components to infer cultural clusters, where mixed memberships are allowed. Five different clusters emerged. Of these, clusters 1 and 3, driven by aversion to pork and alcoholic beverages, mirrored genetic admixture patterns with the exception of Azerbaijan, which shares preferences supported by Islamic culture with Eastern countries. Cluster 3 was driven by protein-rich foods, whose preference was significantly related to steppe pastoralist ancestry. Sex and age were secondary clustering factors, with clusters formed by male and young individuals being related to alcohol preference and a reduced liking for vegetables. The soft clustering approach enabled us to model and summarize the individual's dietary information in short and informative vectors, which show meaningful interaction with other nondietary attributes of the studied individuals. Encoding other cultural variables would help summarize an individual's culture quantitatively, thus ultimately supporting its inclusion as a covariate in future association studies.

Impact of cultural and genetic structure on food choices along the Silk Road

Mezzavilla, Massimo;Pirastu, Nicola;Girotto, Giorgia;Spedicati, Beatrice;Gasparini, Paolo;
2022

Abstract

The complex interplay between genetics, culture, and environment forms an individual's biology, influencing their behavior, choices, and health. However, to what extent information derived from this intertwined network could be quantitatively summarized to provide a glance at an individual's lifestyle is difficult to say. Here, we focused on dietary preferences as cultural proxies and genome-wide data of 543 individuals from six historical Silk Road countries: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. These lands favored the dispersal of innovations, foods, and DNA halfway across Eurasia, thus representing an ideal subject to explore interactions of cultural factors and genetic ancestry. We used discriminant analysis of principal components to infer cultural clusters, where mixed memberships are allowed. Five different clusters emerged. Of these, clusters 1 and 3, driven by aversion to pork and alcoholic beverages, mirrored genetic admixture patterns with the exception of Azerbaijan, which shares preferences supported by Islamic culture with Eastern countries. Cluster 3 was driven by protein-rich foods, whose preference was significantly related to steppe pastoralist ancestry. Sex and age were secondary clustering factors, with clusters formed by male and young individuals being related to alcohol preference and a reduced liking for vegetables. The soft clustering approach enabled us to model and summarize the individual's dietary information in short and informative vectors, which show meaningful interaction with other nondietary attributes of the studied individuals. Encoding other cultural variables would help summarize an individual's culture quantitatively, thus ultimately supporting its inclusion as a covariate in future association studies.
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https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2209311119
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3034619
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