Evolution of the Human Genome: Adaptive Changes

Student Author(s)

Jessica L. Crisci

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology

Publication Date


Document Type



Evolution | Genomics | Population Biology


The study of human evolution is of interest to many both for the potential it has to improve our understanding of heritable disease, as well as for the possibility of illuminating evidence for adaptations that may help to tell the story of our origin. But uncovering evidence of positive selection at the genetic level has been a challenge. It remains unclear how much of the human genome has been affected by positive selection, what the main mechanism of selection is, and what types of patterns we should be looking for to identify adaptations. With whole-genome sequencing and high performance computation, we are quickly shifting to a field in which data is no longer a limiting factor. Here we will discuss the progress that has been made towards these ends, explore the best examples of human-specific adaptations to date, and discuss the implications of these findings within the context of classical population genetic theory.


ancient hominin genomes, demography, genome scans, hitchhiking, human adaptation, human evolution, selective sweeps, soft sweeps

DOI of Published Version



Crisci, J. L. and Jensen, J. D. 2012. Evolution of the Human Genome: Adaptive Changes. eLS. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023987

Journal/Book/Conference Title