Why Can Some Digest Dairy and Others Cannot?
In this activity, students investigate the phenomenon of lactase persistence by making sense of a series of data sets. Using science practices, they analyze authentic scientific data to construct explanations about the geographic distribution of lactase persistence and how this phenomenon may have begun.
This investigation provides an interdisciplinary approach to studying lactase persistence by connecting biological concepts and data analysis to world geography and culture. It focuses on understanding and engaging in the science practices that allow researchers to figure out problems and make sense of phenomena they observe.
Student Learning Targets
- Make observations about a phenomenon and generate questions about it.
- Calculate the frequency of lactase persistence in different populations around the world.
- Determine how a regulatory region affects the expression of a gene.
- Identify differences between DNA sequences among individuals.
- Based on the sequence of the coding strand of DNA, determine the sequence of the template strand, the mRNA, and the amino acid sequence.
enzyme, lactase persistence, lactose intolerance, mutation, pastoralism, phenotype, variation
Heyer, E., L. Brazier, L. Ségurel, T. Hegay, F. Austerlitz, L. Quintana-Murci, M. Georges, et al. 2011. “Lactase Persistence in Central Asia: Phenotype, Genotype, and Evolution.” Human Biology 83, 3: 379–392. https://doi.org/10.1353/hub.2011.a445673.
Ranciaro, A., M. C. Campbell, J. B. Hirbo, W. Ko, A. Froment, P. Anagnostou, M. J. Kotze, et al. 2014. “Genetic origins of lactase persistence and the spread of pastoralism in Africa.” The American Journal of Human Genetics 94, 4: 496–510. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.02.009.
Scott, A., S. Reinhold, T. Hermes, A. A. Kalmykov, A. Belinskiy, A. Buzhilova, N. Berezina, et al. 2022. “Emergence and Intensification of Dairying in the Caucasus and Eurasian Steppes.” Nature Ecology & Evolution 6, 6: 813–822. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01701-6.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS1-1, HS-LS3-3, HS-LS4-3; SEP1, SEP2, SEP3, SEP5, SEP6, SEP7
AP Biology 2019
EVO-1.C, EVO-1.D, IST-1.A, IST-1.K, IST-1.N, IST-2.A, IST-2.E, IST-4.B, SYI-1.C; SP2, SP6
IB Biology 2016
2.5, 2.7, 5.2, 6.1, 7.2
AP Environmental Science 2020
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.H; SP5, SP6
IB Environmental Systems and Societies 2017
Common Core 2010
Vision and Change 2009
CC1, CC2, CC3; DP1, DP2