Look at the faces of any family and you’ll see similarities. Perhaps a daughter has her dad’s cheekbones, or a son has his mother’s nose. The fact that facial features can be inherited tells us that at least some of the components of face shape must be encoded in our genes. But our appearance is a combination of nature and nurture, so efforts to develop genetic ‘e-fits’ – being able to tell what someone’s face looks like solely from their DNA – have had limited success. To find out more detail about how our genes influence our features, researchers have mapped the genetic makeup of more than 2,300 people onto three-dimensional scans of their faces. By focusing on the effect of different genetic variations on the shape and size of 60 distinct areas – highlighted in green in this image – the scientists were able to find 15 new genes involved in facial features.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.