The Evolution of Lactose Tolerance

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Watch the following video and answer the questions below on a word document.

(The Evolution of Lactose Tolerance — HHMI BioInteractive Video)
Questions to be answered: (Please number your answers in the text box to correspond with the questions.)
1. What is the lactase gene product responsible for?
2. What is the function of the product of the lactase gene?
3. What happened approximately 10,000 years ago that contributed to the evolution of the lactase gene?
4. What is coevolution and what two factors are discussed in the video?
5. What environmental pressure initially instigates the loss of the lactase gene function?

6. What is lactase persistent and what species exhibit this characteristic?
7. Why are glucose levels determined before and after the subject in the video drinks a large glass of milk? Explain why high glucose in the bloodstream after drinking milk would be lactase persistent, and low glucose levels after drinking milk would be lactose intolerant.
8. When comparing populations around the world that were lactose intolerant to populations that were lactase persistent, what changes or mutations (if any) were found in the lactase gene itself?
9. Where was the mutation found on chromosome 2 that leads to lactose intolerance? What type of mutation is it? (Remember types of mutations from your 2010 lecture)
10. Why did two different mutations in two different populations (European population and African population) both result in lactase persistence?

11. Why was it important for both populations to retain the ability to digest lactose into adulthood, when all other mammals lose the ability as they become adults?
12. What evidence was provided to support this theory of coevolution of the same gene mutation in populations so distant from each other?
13. Explain the selective advantage of lactase persistence in populations 10,000 years ago, and how that contributed to its increase in modern-day populations.
14. From what you learned about the gene-culture coevolution, do you believe lactase persistence will increase or decrease in future populations? Explain your answer with supporting evidence or ideas.

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