Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Origins of magic: review of genetic and epigenetic effects

An interesting take on genetics.

Sreeram V Ramagopalan, Marian Knight, George C Ebers, Julian C Knight. Origins of magic: review of genetic and epigenetic effects. British Medical Journal 2007;335:1299-301. [PubMed]

OBJECTIVE: To assess the evidence for a genetic basis to magic. DESIGN: Literature review. SETTING: Harry Potter novels of J K Rowling. PARTICIPANTS: Muggles, witches, wizards, and squibs. INTERVENTIONS: Limited. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Family and twin studies, magical ability, and specific magical skills. RESULTS: Magic shows strong evidence of heritability, with familial aggregation and concordance in twins. Evidence suggests magical ability to be a quantitative trait. Specific magical skills, notably being able to speak to snakes, predict the future, and change hair colour, all seem heritable. CONCLUSIONS: A multilocus model with a dominant gene for magic might exist, controlled epistatically by one or more loci, possibly recessive in nature. Magical enhancers regulating gene expressionmay be involved, combined with mutations at specific genes implicated in speech and hair colour such as FOXP2 and MCR1.

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