Modern human populations exhibit substantial phenotypic variation as evidenced by body mass, height and craniofacial differences shaped by the skeletal system. The human skeletal system has evolved rapidly with the advent of agriculture and it is possible that these changes would have likely been accompanied by changes in selective pressures on the underlying genes, where adaptive evolution probably occurred.
BMP3 (Bone morphogenetic protein 3), also known as osteogenin, is an antagonist for several of the osteogenic BMPs, and plays an important role in skeletal development. Prof. Ya-ping Zhang, a CAS academician from Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), and his graduate student Dong-Dong Wu and Wei Jin, did a study on the evolution and population genetics pattern of BMP3 gene in modern humans. They found that the gene had many non-synonymous mutations, lower genetic diversity, and long range extended haplotype homozygosity. The data suggest that BMP3 was under positive natural selection in human populations, which may be consistent with the rapid evolution of human skeletal system.
The finding was published online in PLoS ONE, 5(6): e10959. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010959: Evidence for Positive Selection on the Osteogenin (BMP3) Gene in Human Populations. (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0010959).