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Curly, wavy or straight: hair shape is in your DNA

Scientists from Erasmus MC and other institutions have found genes underlying variation in hair shape. This is also relevant for predicting hair shape of unknown perpetrators from DNA. The study was recently published in the scientific journal Human Molecular Genetics.

Genetic understanding of hair shape variation is of fundamental scientific interest, and the prediction of hair shape from DNA is relevant for forensic investigation.

ManfredK-grHair shape variation
Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Manfred Kayser from the Department of Genetic Identification of Erasmus MC have identified 12 genes for hair shape variation, of which 8 were previously unknown to be involved in hair.

Kayser: “Our findings represent an important step in understanding the genetics of human hair shape. Currently, we can predict hair and eye colour from crime scene DNA with practically useful accuracy. Also skin colour is predictable from DNA as we demonstrated recently. I expect that we can add hair shape in the near future. In forensic cases where DNA is found at the crime scene, the prediction of appearance traits can be helpful for finding unknown perpetrators, who cannot be identified with standard DNA profiling.

The press release and link to the article may be found here.

Date published: 14 December 2017.

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