DNA USA

Bryan Sykes, the evolutionary geneticist at Oxford University and the author of The Seven Daughters of Eve, is adding to his oeuvre of popular work on genetics with his new book, DNA USA, A Genetic Portrait of America.

As with his previous work, Sykes breaks down some of the complicated aspects of genetics in ways that are easily understood. This book is both travelogue and a snapshot of the genetic melting pot that is the United States of America.  As Sykes writes America is the place “where the genes of the three great continents converge.”

The book offers some intriguing, although mostly anecdotal, observations. During his journey Sykes meets people who agree to have their DNA tested anonymously. He then creates DNA portraits of these individuals, using 23andMe to create ancestry paintings of each individual. From that he drew conclusions about early America and the rich mixing of European, Asian and African people in America. The book also offers Sykes a chance to discuss the history of the earliest Americans.

Last week, our own senior director of research Joanna Mountain — who along with 23andMe scientist Mike Macpherson acted as consultants for some of the genetics in the book — introduced Sykes at a lecture he delivered at Berkeley Arts & Letters.

He got a good response from the audience and his book has some buzz including a thumbs-up from the Kirkus Review.
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