Males aged 18 to 60 have been hit by an epidemic of beard growing over the past two years or so. Experts have underestimated how long it will continue to rage, although if current trends continue, all young urban media professionals will be affected by 2017 (probably).
As more guys jump onto the hairy bandwagon, youve probably asked yourself, why are so many beards ginger even if their hair is dark? Even if they dont have a redhead in the family?
Perplexed by the question, Adriaan Schiphorst from Motherboard called up Petra Haak-Bloem from Erfocentrum, a Dutch organisation that promotes genetics and awareness of genetic disorders, to get the answers.
She told him its all down tothe MC1R-gene. Thegene coding for hair colour is called”incomplete dominant hereditary traits,” meaninghair color isnt as simple as one gene coding for one color of hair. The genes can be expressed differently in different areas of your body, like your head, beard, eyebrows or pubes.
Haak-Bloem explained that its all to do with the genes thatcode for the amount of different pigments, called melanin, in your hair. She explained that hair color is dependent on two of these pigments: eumelanin, the black pigment, and pheomelanin, a red pigment.
She added: More than a decade ago, researchers discovered that one gene (MC1R) on chromosome 16 plays an important part in giving people red hair. MC1Rs task is making a protein called melanocortin 1. That protein plays an important part in converting pheolmelanine into eumelanine.
When someone inherits two mutated versions of the MC1R-gene (one from each parent), less pheomelanine is converted into eumelanine. The [pheomelanine] accumulates in the pigment cells and the person ends up with red hair and fair skin.
Haak-Bloem also said that if you only inherited one of these mutated genes, red hair can appear in sporadic places because of the variety of ways the gene can be expressed.
So, there you have it. That odd ginger beard in your family isnt just the product ofextramarital activity with a crimson-locked lothario.
image credit:WordShore/Flickr.(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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