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Concept: Eye color


We tested whether eye color influences perception of trustworthiness. Facial photographs of 40 female and 40 male students were rated for perceived trustworthiness. Eye color had a significant effect, the brown-eyed faces being perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones. Geometric morphometrics, however, revealed significant correlations between eye color and face shape. Thus, face shape likewise had a significant effect on perceived trustworthiness but only for male faces, the effect for female faces not being significant. To determine whether perception of trustworthiness was being influenced primarily by eye color or by face shape, we recolored the eyes on the same male facial photos and repeated the test procedure. Eye color now had no effect on perceived trustworthiness. We concluded that although the brown-eyed faces were perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones, it was not brown eye color per se that caused the stronger perception of trustworthiness but rather the facial features associated with brown eyes.

Concepts: Eye, Photoreceptor cell, Color, Qualia, Rod cell, Cone cell, Human eye, Eye color


Pigmentation is a polygenic trait encompassing some of the most visible phenotypic variation observed in humans. Here we present direct estimates of selection acting on functional alleles in three key genes known to be involved in human pigmentation pathways-HERC2, SLC45A2, and TYR-using allele frequency estimates from Eneolithic, Bronze Age, and modern Eastern European samples and forward simulations. Neutrality was overwhelmingly rejected for all alleles studied, with point estimates of selection ranging from around 2-10% per generation. Our results provide direct evidence that strong selection favoring lighter skin, hair, and eye pigmentation has been operating in European populations over the last 5,000 y.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Genotype, Evolution, Copper, Human skin color, Eye color


BACKGROUND: DNA analysis of ancient skeletal remains is invaluable in evolutionary biology for exploring the history of species, including humans. Contemporary human bones and teeth, however, are relevant in forensic DNA analyses that deal with the identification of perpetrators, missing persons, disaster victims or family relationships. They may also provide useful information towards unravelling controversies that surround famous historical individuals. Retrieving information about a deceased person’s externally visible characteristics can be informative in both types of DNA analyses. Recently, we demonstrated that human eye and hair colour can be reliably predicted from DNA using the HIrisPlex system. Here we test the feasibility of the novel HIrisPlex system at establishing eye and hair colour of deceased individuals from skeletal remains of various post-mortem time ranges and storage conditions. METHODS: Twenty-one teeth between 1 and approximately 800 years of age and 5 contemporary bones were subjected to DNA extraction using standard organic protocol followed by analysis using the HIrisPlex system. RESULTS: Twenty-three out of 26 bone DNA extracts yielded the full 24 SNP HIrisPlex profile, therefore successfully allowing model-based eye and hair colour prediction. HIrisPlex analysis of a tooth from the Polish general W[latin small letter l with stroke]adys[latin small letter l with stroke]aw Sikorski (1881 to 1943) revealed blue eye colour and blond hair colour, which was positively verified from reliable documentation. The partial profiles collected in the remaining three cases (two contemporary samples and a 14th century sample) were sufficient for eye colour prediction. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, we demonstrate that the HIrisPlex system is suitable, sufficiently sensitive and robust to successfully predict eye and hair colour from ancient and contemporary skeletal remains. Our findings, therefore, highlight the HIrisPlex system as a promising tool in future routine forensic casework involving skeletal remains, including ancient DNA studies, for the prediction of eye and hair colour of deceased individuals.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Full genome sequencing, Identification, Eye color, DNA profiling, National DNA database, Combined DNA Index System


Human skin color is predominantly determined by melanin produced in melanosomes within melanocytes and subsequently distributed to keratinocytes. There are many studies that have proposed mechanisms underlying ethnic skin color variations, whereas the processes involved from melanin synthesis in melanocytes to the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes are common among humans. Apart from the activities in the melanogenic rate-limiting enzyme, tyrosinase, in melanocytes and the amounts and distribution patterns of melanosomes in keratinocytes, the abilities of the actin-associated factors in charge of melanosome transport within melanocytes also regulate pigmentation. Mutations in genes encoding melanosome transport-related molecules, such as MYO5A, RAB27A and SLAC-2A, have been reported to cause a human pigmentary disease known as Griscelli syndrome, which is associated with diluted skin and hair color. Thus we hypothesized that process might play a role in modulating skin color variations. To address that hypothesis, the correlations of expression of RAB27A and its specific effector, SLAC2-A, to melanogenic ability were evaluated in comparison with tyrosinase, using human melanocytes derived from 19 individuals of varying skin types. Following the finding of the highest correlation in RAB27A expression to the melanogenic ability, darkly-pigmented melanocytes with significantly higher RAB27A expression were found to transfer significantly more melanosomes to keratinocytes than lightly-pigmented melanocytes in co-culture and in human skin substitutes (HSSs) in vivo, resulting in darker skin color in concert with the difference observed in African-descent and Caucasian skins. Additionally, RAB27A knockdown by a lentivirus-derived shRNA in melanocytes concomitantly demonstrated a significantly reduced number of transferred melanosomes to keratinocytes in co-culture and a significantly diminished epidermal melanin content skin color intensity (ΔL* = 4.4) in the HSSs. These data reveal the intrinsically essential role of RAB27A in human ethnic skin color determination and provide new insights for the fundamental understanding of regulatory mechanisms underlying skin pigmentation.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Skin, Melanin, Race, Human skin color, Melanocyte, Eye color, Human skin


Here we report exceptionally preserved non-biomineralized compound eyes of a non-trilobite arthropod Cindarella eucalla from the lower Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte, China. The specimen represents the oldest microanatomical evidence confirming the occurrence of highly developed vision in the early Cambrian, over 2,000 ommatidia in each eye. Moreover, a quantitative analysis of the distribution of eyes related to life habit, feeding types, and phyla respectively, from the Chengjiang biota indicates that specimens with eyes mostly belong to the arthropods, and they usually were actively mobile epifaunal and nektonic forms as hunters or scavengers. Arthropods took the lead in evolution of ‘good vision’ and domination in Cambrian communities, which supports the hypothesis that the origin and evolution of ‘good vision’ was a key trait that promoted preferential diversification and formed the foundation of modern benthic ecosystems in the early Cambrian ocean.

Concepts: Brain, Life, Eye, Cambrian explosion, Eye color, Trilobite, Cambrian, Chengjiang County


Multispectral imaging is a powerful tool that extends the capabilities of the human eye. However, multispectral imaging systems generally are expensive and bulky, and multiple exposures are needed. Here, we report the demonstration of a compact multispectral imaging system that uses vertical silicon nanowires to realize a filter array. Multiple filter functions covering visible to near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths are simultaneously defined in a single lithography step using a single material (silicon). Nanowires are then etched and embedded into polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), thereby realizing a device with eight filter functions. By attaching it to a monochrome silicon image sensor, we successfully realize an all-silicon multispectral imaging system. We demonstrate visible and NIR imaging. We show that the latter is highly sensitive to vegetation and furthermore enables imaging through objects opaque to the eye.

Concepts: Eye, Demonstration, Image sensor, Imaging, Visible spectrum, Human eye, Eye color, Multi-spectral image


BACKGROUND: Contact-type spectrophotometers have been widely used to measure skin color to determine the color values and melanin and hemoglobin contents. Recently, a spectral camera was introduced to evaluate two-dimensional color distribution. However, its application to skin color measurement has been limited. METHODS: The original spectral imaging system developed for facial skin consisted of a spectral camera and an original lighting unit for uniform irradiation of the face. The distribution of skin chromophores in the face, including melanin and oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin, was calculated from the reflectance data for each pixel of the spectral images. In addition, to create a mean spectral image of the group, a face morphing technology for spectral data was proposed. Using the system, we determined the characteristics of the dark circles around the eyes and also evaluated the effects of an anti-dark circle cosmetic. RESULTS: This system enabled the sensitive detection of skin chromophores in the face. Melanin content increased and hemoglobin oxygen saturation ratio decreased locally in the infraorbital areas of women with dark circles compared with those of women without dark circles. In addition, we were able to detect improvement in the dark circles after 6 weeks' use of anti-dark circle cosmetic products by visualizing the distribution of the relative concentrations of melanin and hemoglobin oxygen saturation ratio. CONCLUSION: Using a spectral camera, we developed a non-contact image-processing system that was capable of capturing a wide area of the face to visualize the distribution of the relative concentrations of skin chromophores in the face.

Concepts: Oxygen, Ultraviolet, Color, Melanin, Face, Human skin color, Eye color, Multi-spectral image


Human populations and breeds of domestic animals are composed of individuals with a multiplicity of eye (= iris) colorations. Some wild birds and mammals may have intraspecific eye color variability, but this variation seems to be due to the developmental stage of the individual, its breeding status, and/or sexual dimorphism. In other words, eye colour tends to be a species-specific trait in wild animals, and the exceptions are species in which individuals of the same age group or gender all develop the same eye colour. Domestic animals, by definition, include bird and mammal species artificially selected by humans in the last few thousand years. Humans themselves may have acquired a diverse palette of eye colors, likewise in recent evolutionary time, in the Mesolithic or in the Upper Paleolithic.

Concepts: Gene, Human, Natural selection, Species, Eye, Mammal, Color, Eye color


In several species, mate choice is influenced by parental features through sexual imprinting, but in humans evidence is scarce and open to alternative explanations. We examined whether daughters' preference for mates with light vs dark eyes is affected by the eye colour of parents. In an online study, over one thousand women rated the attractiveness of men as potential partners for either a long- or a short-term relationship. Each male face was shown twice, with light (blue or green) and with dark (brown or dark brown) eyes. Having a light-eyed father increased the preference for light-eyed men in both relationship contexts. Having light eyes increased this preference too, but only when men were regarded as potential long-term companions. Asymmetrically, in real life, father’s eye colour was the only predictor of partner’s eye colour; own colour was irrelevant. Mother’s eye colour never mattered, affecting neither preferences nor real-life choices. The effect of paternal eye colour was modulated by the quality of the relationship between father and daughter, suggesting (flexible) sexual imprinting rather than a simple inheritance of maternal preferences. Our data provide evidence that in humans, as in birds and sheep, visual experience of parental features shapes later sexual preferences.

Concepts: Family, Parent, Eye, Color, Mother, Father, Choice, Eye color


In archival samples of European-ancestry subjects, light-eyed individuals have been found to consume more alcohol than dark-eyed individuals. No published population-based studies have directly tested the association between alcohol dependence (AD) and eye color. We hypothesized that light-eyed individuals have a higher prevalence of AD than dark-eyed individuals. A mixture model was used to select a homogeneous sample of 1,263 European-Americans and control for population stratification. After quality control, we conducted an association study using logistic regression, adjusting for confounders (age, sex, and genetic ancestry). We found evidence of association between AD and blue eye color (P = 0.0005 and odds ratio = 1.83 (1.31-2.57)), supporting light eye color as a risk factor relative to brown eye color. Network-based analyses revealed a statistically significant (P = 0.02) number of genetic interactions between eye color genes and AD-associated genes. We found evidence of linkage disequilibrium between an AD-associated GABA receptor gene cluster, GABRB3/GABRG3, and eye color genes, OCA2/HERC2, as well as between AD-associated GRM5 and pigmentation-associated TYR. Our population-phenotype, network, and linkage disequilibrium analyses support association between blue eye color and AD. Although we controlled for stratification we cannot exclude underlying occult stratification as a contributor to this observation. Although replication is needed, our findings suggest that eye pigmentation information may be useful in research on AD. Further characterization of this association may unravel new AD etiological factors. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Medical statistics, Eye, Mixture model, European American, Linkage disequilibrium, Eye color