After reading the Introduction and Part 1, you will watch a segment of the video and then answer some questions . Link to video: http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/biology-skin-color
1. Describe the relationship between the UV index (the colored bar in Figure 1) and latitude (y-axis). 2. How do you explain the relationship between the UV index and latitude? (In other words, why does UV intensity change with latitude?)
3. Find our approximate location on the map. What is the primary UV index value of our state on this particular day in September? 4. Look at the regions that
receive the most intense UV (light pink). Site a specific piece of evidence from the map that a factor other than latitude was contributing to UV intensity on this day.
In the film, Dr. Jablonski explains that melanin, located in the epidermis, absorbs UV radiation, protecting cells from the damaging effects of UV. Genetics determines the type of melanin (i.e. brown/black eumelanin or red/brown pheomelanin) and the amount of melanin present in an individuals cells. 5. Based on this information, write a hypothesis for where in the world you would expect to find
human populations with darker or lighter skin pigmentation (i.e. different amounts of melanin). **How could scientists test this hypothesis? (Answer as a class.) One way to measure skin color is to look at skin reflectance. Scientists can shine visible light on a portion of skin (typically the inside of the arm) and
then measure how much light is reflected back. Dark skin reflects less visible light than does light skin. The lower the reflectance value, therefore, the darker the skin. **Why do you think that reflectance data are collected from a subjects inner arm? (Answer
as a class.) 6. Describe the relationship between skin reflectance (y-axis) and latitude (x-axis). Consider both the direction and steepness of the lines slopes. 7. Do these data support your hypothesis from Question #5? After watching the video from 5:49 to 9:08 minutes, answer Question #8. 8. Based on what you know about skin pigmentation so far, suggest a
mechanism by which UV intensity could provide a selective pressure on the evolution of human skin color. In other words, propose a hypothesis that links skin color to evolutionary fitness. After watching the video from 9:08 to 12:19 minutes, answer Question #11 & 12. 9. (Negative selection is the removal of alleles that are harmful.) What does it mean for a trait, such as skin coloration, to be under negative selection in
equatorial Africa? Relate negative selection pressure to what we know about MC1R allele diversity among African populations. **Why does Dr. Jablonski dismiss the hypothesis that protection from skin cancer provided selection for the evolution of darker skin in our human ancestors? (Answer as a class.) Watch the video from 12:19 to 13:32 minutes. In this segment of the film, Dr. Jablonski references a paper she had read about the connection between UV exposure and the essential nutrient folate
(a B vitamin), which circulates throughout the body in the blood. The paper, published in 1978, describes how the serum (blood) folate concentration differed between 2 groups of light-skinned people. Look at one of the Figures from that paper on the next slide. 10. Describe the relationship between folate levels and UV exposure. Use specific data from the graph to support your answer. **Dr. Jablonski describes learning that low folate levels are linked to severe
birth defects as a eureka moment. Explain what she means by this. (Answer as a class.) 11. Can the effects of UV light on folate explain the full variation of human skin color that exists among human populations today? Watch the video from 13:32 to 16:04 minutes. Unlike many essential nutrients, vitamin D is produced by the human body. One type of UV radiation called UVB starts a
chain of reactions that convert 7dehydrocholesterol, a chemical found in the skin, to vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the foods we eat to make strong bones. Vitamin D is also important for reproductive health and for the maintenance of a strong immune system.
How much UVB exposure is necessary to synthesize sufficient vitamin D depends largely on 2 factors: 1. UV intensity 2. Skin color In general, at a given UV intensity, a dark skinned individual must be exposed to UVB 5 times as long as a light skinned individual to synthesize the same amount of vitamin D.
**What type of skin color is selected for in regards to vitamin D production? (Answer as a class.) 12. Based on everything that you have learned so far, provide an explanation for how the different shades of skin color from pinkish white to dark brown evolved throughout human history. How does this information affect us today?
Watch the rest of the film in order to answer these last questions. The recommended level of circulating vitamin D is 20 ng/ml of blood. Figure 5 shows the concentrations of serum 25(OH)D vitamin, which is the main type of vitamin D that circulates in blood. Measurements were taken among people living in the United States and were standardized to negate the effects of weight, age and other factors.
**a) Which subpopulation is at the greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency? **b) Which subpopulation is at the least risk for vitamin D deficiency? **How do you think the Inuit get enough vitamin D even though live at high latitudes? (Answer as a class.)
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