Being a redhead, you may have heard about the MC1R gene. It is the gene that makes redheads have red hair!
Until recently, we thought through scientific research red hair was only controlled by MC1R. Previous studies showed in order for a baby to have red hair, both parents must carry the gene.
However, scientists have now discovered eight more genes linked to red hair. It is the largest genetic study of hair color to date.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh looked at DNA from roughly 350,000 individuals with European descent. They compared redheads to non-redheads (brown and black hair) and discovered eight unknown genetic differences associated with red hair.
The study, published in Nature Communications, suggests that MC1R accounts for just 73% of red hair.
Furthermore, some of these genes worked with the MC1R gene on or off and the majority of people who carry the redhead variants of the MC1R have brown or blonde hair. The report states, “Although 93% of individuals with red hair carry two MC1R variants, these make up only 15% of people who carry two MC1R variants. The majority of people with two variants have blonde (15%) or light brown hair (41%).”
Professor Albert Tenesa from The Roslin Institute said in a statement, “We are very pleased that this work has unravelled most of the genetic variation contributing to differences in hair color among people.”
It’s fascinating to know that red hair is made up of more than just the MC1R gene and it’s also great that scientists are starting to really dig into the red hair gene itself.
What do you think about all of this fascinating gene discovery?! Rock it like a Redhead!