Inbreeding Not Such a Good Idea

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2009/04/royals-prove-inbreeding-is-a-bad-idea/

April 16, 2009

Royals Prove Inbreeding Is a Bad Idea

Those jokes about inbred royals might have some basis in fact, according to a  new study in the journal PLOS One .

The Hapsburg dynasty ruled Spain from 1516 to 1700, reigning over the height of the  Spanish empire. The dynasty ended when the last king, Charles II, who suffered  physical and mental disabilities, died without issue despite two marriages.  Inbreeding had been thought to play a role in the family’s extinction.

A young Charles II, c. 1673, via Wikimedia Commons

A young Charles II, c. 1673, via Wikimedia  Commons

A group of biologists from Spain developed an extended pedigree of more than  3,000 individuals over 16 generations so that they could calculate the  “inbreeding coefficient” of the Spanish Hapsburg kings. The inbreeding  coefficient is a measure of relatedness between two individuals. Here’s an example:

Take a first-cousin mating. First cousins share a set of grandparents. For  any particular gene in the male, the chance that his female first cousin  inherited the same gene from the same source is 1/8. Further, for any gene the  man passes to his child, the chance is 1/8 that the woman has the same gene and  ½ that she transmits that gene to the child so 1/8 X ½ = 1/16. Thus, a  first-cousin marriage has a coefficient of inbreeding F =1/16  [0.0625].

The six kings of Spain married a total of 11 times. Nine of the marriages  were “consanguineous unions in a degree of third cousins or closer.” There were  even two uncle-niece unions (eww). Over time, the biologists calculated, the  inbreeding coefficient rose from 0.025 for Philip I, the founder of the dynasty,  to 0.254 for Charles II. His inbreeding coefficient–0.254–is as high as that  expected from a parent-child or a brother-sister relationship (double eww).

In addition to the high inbreeding coefficients, the biologists cited two  other lines of evidence that inbreeding was the cause of the Spanish Hapsburgs’  demise: First, the family experienced a high rate of infant mortality, with half  of the children failing to reach age one (compared with 80 percent survival at  that time in Spanish villages). Second, many of Charles II’s disabilities and  illnesses–short stature, weakness, intestinal problems, sporadic hematuria,  impotence/infertility–could be explained by two genetic disorders, combined  pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis. The probability  that an individual would inherit two recessive traits would be extremely low,  but inbreeding made that much more likely.

This wouldn’t seem to have much relevance here in the present, except as an  interesting side story in the history books. However, the authors note that  consanguineous marriages account for 20 to 50 percent of all unions in certain  populations in Asia and Africa and reach as high as 77.1 percent among army  families in Pakistan. In those families, more than 60 percent of marriages are  between first cousins.

Read more:  http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2009/04/royals-prove-inbreeding-is-a-bad-idea/#ixzz2TaIXYT4H

Pakistan Transfers Strategic Gwadar Port to China

Map of Pakistan

Pakistan Information

By      Sampath Perera            26 February 2013

On February 18, the Pakistani government transferred operational control of its strategically-located deep-sea port at Gwadar, Balochistan province to China. India, a rival of Pakistan and of China, has expressed concerns over the deal—highlighting the increasingly complex geo-political rivalries stoked by the Obama administration’s policy of “pivot” to Asia.

Gwadar is situated on the Arabian Sea, just 180 nautical miles (330 kilometres) from the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of the world’s oil supply passes. It offers a prime location to monitor shipping passing through the Strait of Hormuz from the Persian Gulf, as well as access to cheap land routes or Middle East trade through Pakistan into western China and Central Asia.

The agreement to transfer the port to the state-owned China Overseas Port Holding Company was signed in a ceremony attended by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, several ministers, and Chinese Ambassador Liu Jian. The previous operator, the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), withdrew after Islamabad refused to provide large land allotments the PSA wanted for development work around the port.

On February 6, after Pakistan announced its decision to hand over the control of the port to China, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, expressed “serious concerns” at a news conference, revealing his government’s displeasure over the deal. “In one sentence, I can say that it’s a matter of concern to us,” Antony said.

Read more:      Pakistan transfers strategic Gwadar port to China