A Comprehensive Map of Genetic Variation in the World's Largest Ethnic Group-Han Chinese

Charleston W.K. Chiang, Serghei Mangul, Christopher Robles, Sriram Sankararaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


As are most non-European populations, the Han Chinese are relatively understudied in population and medical genetics studies. From low-coverage whole-genome sequencing of 11,670 Han Chinese women we present a catalog of 25,057,223 variants, including 548,401 novel variants that are seen at least 10 times in our data set. Individuals from this data set came from 24 out of 33 administrative divisions across China (including 19 provinces, 4 municipalities, and 1 autonomous region), thus allowing us to study population structure, genetic ancestry, and local adaptation in Han Chinese. We identified previously unrecognized population structure along the East-West axis of China, demonstrated a general pattern of isolation-by-distance among Han Chinese, and reported unique regional signals of admixture, such as European influences among the Northwestern provinces of China. Furthermore, we identified a number of highly differentiated, putatively adaptive, loci (e.g., MTHFR, ADH7, and FADS, among others) that may be driven by immune response, climate, and diet in the Han Chinese. Finally, we have made available allele frequency estimates stratified by administrative divisions across China in the Geography of Genetic Variant browser for the broader community. By leveraging the largest currently available genetic data set for Han Chinese, we have gained insights into the history and population structure of the world's largest ethnic group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2736-2750
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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