Amylase Copy Number and Diet
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that investigated whether there is a correlation between a population’s diet and copies of a certain gene.
Many of the foods we eat contain starch, which is broken down by an enzyme called salivary amylase. This enzyme is encoded by a gene, AMY1, that can have 2 to 15 copies per person. In this study, scientists compared AMY1 copy numbers in populations with high- and low-starch diets (Panel A), and the cumulative proportions of individuals with different AMY1 copy numbers in the sampled populations (Panel B).
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Discuss why having more copies of a certain gene may provide a selective advantage.
copy number variation (CNV), digestion, gene duplication, histogram, line graph, saliva, selection pressure, starch
Perry, George H., Nathaniel J. Dominy, Katrina G. Claw, Arthur S. Lee, Heike Fiegler, Richard Redon, John Werner, et al. “Diet and evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation.” Nature Genetics 39, 10 (2007): 1256–1260. https://doi.org/10.1038/ng2123.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS3-2, HS-LS3-3; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
EVO-1.D, SYI-3.D, IST-2.E; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
3.1, 5.2, D.1
IB Environmental Systems and Societies (2017)
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC1; DP2, DP3