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DNA project to make ‘Ginger’ Map of Britain

DNA project to make ‘Ginger’ Map of Britain

Roll up, roll up! Ginger Scots, are you ready to make it count?

Because a new project by ScotlandsDNA aims to create a ‘Ginger Map’ of the British Isles, first of all accounting for how many Scottish men and women carry the ‘ginger’ gene.

This is not Scotland, in case you were wondering

It’s all in the hope to finally work out why there are so many people with red hair residing in Scotland, seeing as the total global ginger population lies at 2% but Scotland is lucky enough to claim 13% of its population as redheads.

That’s approximately 650,000 natural redheads in Scotland, but the figure could be as high as 1.6m Scots who carry the recessive ‘ginger’ gene, which dictates pigmentation of hair, skin, and a few other weird and quirky characteristics.

Managing director of ScotlandsDNA, Alastair Moffat, believes that the poor Scottish weather could be an influencing factor.

He said, “I think it’s to do with sunshine – we all need vitamin D from sunshine, but Scotland is cloudy, we have an Atlantic climate and we need light skin to get as much vitamin D from the Sun as possible.”

If you’re wondering, what makes you ginger is chromosome 16, which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein. This dictates your DNA pigmentation by suppressing black melanin, allowing red and yellow melanin to be made.

The result is red hair, a pale complexion, and most likely some cheeky freckles thrown in for fun. Oh and you’ll be extra sensitive to sunlight (get that sunscreen on!).

The ScotlandsDNA tests, costing £25 each will tell participants whether they carry the gene that dictates red hair, and which of the three type of red hair gene they carry: Cysteine-red (carried by 10% of Brits); Tryptophan-red (carried by 9% of Brits); and Histidine-red (carried by 2.5% of Brits).

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Phew, there’s a lot of DNA jargon there, but we like it – it’s gene-ius (sorry). Another reason why we love Gingerdom so much is that it can pop up unexpectedly, just when you thought you were safe *cue evil laugh*

It can skip generations, and, contrary to popular belief, the gene is proving that it’s not dying out. We’re clearly too awesome for that.

If there are any Scots out there intending to take The Ginger Test, please get in touch!

By Emma


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