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Historical rice farming in China linked to contemporary polygenic score differences


Zhu, Chen et al. (2021), Historical rice farming in China linked to contemporary polygenic score differences, Dryad, Dataset,


Following domestication in the lower Yangtze River valley 9,400 years ago, rice farming spread throughout China and changed lifestyle patterns among Neolithic populations. Here we report evidence that the advent of rice domestication and cultivation may have shaped humans not only culturally but also genetically. Leveraging recent findings from molecular genetics, we construct a number of polygenic scores of behavioural traits and examine their associations with rice cultivation based on a sample of 4,101 individuals recently collected from Mainland China. A total of nine polygenic traits and genotypes are investigated in this study, including polygenic scores of height, body mass index, depression, time discounting, reproduction, educational attainment, risk preference, ADH1B rs1229984 and ALDH2 rs671. Two-stage least squares estimates of the county-level percentage of cultivated land devoted to paddy rice on the polygenic score of age at first birth (b = -0.029, p = 0.021) and ALDH2 rs671 (b = 0.182, p < 0.001) are both statistically significant and robust to a wide range of potential confounds and alternative explanations. These findings imply that rice farming may influence human evolution in relatively recent human history.