Moscow University

Modern interpretations of evolutionary, anthropological and ecological aspects of the “thrifty genotype” hypothesis

Kozlov A. (1, 2, 3), Gasanov E. (2), Parfenteva O. (4)

1) Lomonosov Moscow State University, Anuchin Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology, Mokhovaya st., 11, Moscow, 125009, Russia; 2) National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Myasnitskaya str., 11, of. 529, Moscow, 101000, Russia; 3) Research Centre of Medical Genetics, Moskvorechye st., 1, Moscow, 115522, Russia; 4) Lopukhin Federal Research and Clinical Center of Physical-Chemical Medicine, Malaya Pirogovskaya st., 1a, Moscow, 119435, Russia

Kozlov Andrew I., PhD, D.Sci.; ORCID ID: 0000-0002-6710-4862;; Eugeni Gasanov, PhD, ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5020-9406;; Olga Parfenteva, PhD, ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7895-6887;


Introduction. There are a number of genes, individual alleles of which or their combinations make the carrier susceptible to the disease. In the case of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, the hypothesis of a “thrifty genotype” was put forward as a combination of gene alleles that provided their carriers with advantages in the prehistoric and historical past, but provoked morbidity now. Such a genotype should have previously been under the positive selection, whereas in the modern world it may play a negative role. It is also obvious that the expression of the thrifty genotype as well as the genes that form it and their alleles, should depend on anthropological and ecological conditions: the ecology of the region where the human population lives and their traditional subsistence and farming systems. The aim of the proposed review is to systematize modern views on the problem of thrifty genotype with special attention to the evolutionary anthropological, and ecological aspects of the problem. Materials and methods. Herein we represent a review of current data regarding the thrifty genotype hypothesis. The paper reviews the main theses of the hypothesis, its basis, and the arguments of supporters and critics. The evolutionary, anthropological, and ecological aspects of the thrifty genotype hypothesis are discussed. Results. A significant number of experimental studies and reviews give an idea of the distribution of thrifty genotypes in populations of different origins and anthropological affiliations. However, the coverage of material and inclusion of population data in the analysis is uneven. The genetic geography of thrifty genotypes remains poor and, commonly, insufficiently studied. The most complete and methodologically correct systematization of primary materials on the prevalence of thrifty genotypes, their connection with the ecological conditions of the natural environment, and anthropogenic factors, including traditional subsistence and farming systems and the nature of nutrition, remains still relevant. Conclusion. We consider the integrated ecological approach to be the most promising direction of theoretical research on the problem of “thrifty genotype”. The approach from the standpoint of the concept of “niche construction” removes the seeming contradictions between the main hypotheses considered in our review – the thrifty genotype, the drifty genotype and the thrifty phenotype. @ 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license


thrifty genotype; metabolic diseases; genetic diversity; anthropological diversity; natural selection; gene alleles; ecology

DOI: 10.32521/2074-8132.2023.4.047-057

Цит.: Kozlov A., Gasanov E., Parfenteva O. Modern interpretations of evolutionary, anthropological and ecological aspects of the “thrifty genotype” hypothesis // Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia), 2023; 4/2023; с. 47-57 (Published: November 20 2023)

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