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‘Map’ of French Canadian Population Uses Genes and Genealogy

28 Jun 2023 11:51 AM | Anonymous

A new study on French Canadian populations incorporates genealogical records to provide an accurate map of genetic relatedness.

The study offers insight into the complex relationship between human migration and genetic variation, using a unique genealogical dataset of over five million records spanning 400 years to unravel the genetic structure of French Canadian populations.

The team developed a new method to simulate genomes based on a population scale genealogy dating back to the arrival of the first French settlers. By comparing the simulations to real genetic data, they were able to prove that the genetic structure of this population was encoded within its genealogy.

“It is the first genetic study, in any worldwide population, that incorporates genealogical records to provide a strikingly accurate map of genetic relatedness at the population scale,” explains Simon Gravel, associate professor in McGill University’s department of human genetics and an author of the study in Science.

The dataset was used in part to investigate how certain historical events and landscapes have influenced the genomes of French Canadians today. The study highlights the relationship between river networks and genetic similarity, as European colonial history was marked by a rapid expansion of borders along the banks of the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries.

“This study tells the genetic story of French Canadians, showing that their population structure today is not a result of ancestral French population structure, but rather one that has been shaped by events in North America over the past four centuries,” says Gravel. “We were even able to tie a meteor impact crater in the region of Charlevoix to the appearance of a founder effect observed in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.”

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