In humans the ability to digest milk lactose is conferred by a β-galactosidase enzyme called lactase-phlorizin hydrolase (LPH). While in some humans (approximately two-thirds of humankind) the levels of this enzyme decline drastically after the weaning phase (a trait known as lactase non-persistence (LNP)), some other individuals are capable of maintaining high levels of LPH lifelong (lactase persistence (LP)), thus being able to digest milk during adulthood. Both lactase phenotypes in humans present a complex genetic basis and have been widely investigated during the last decades. The distribution of lactase phenotypes and their associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across human populations has also been extensively studied, though not recently reviewed. All available information has always been presented in the form of static world maps or large dimension tables, so that it would benefit from the newly available visualization tools, such as interactive world maps. Taking all this into consideration, the aims of the present review were: (1) to gather and summarize all available information on LNP and LP genetic mechanisms and evolutionary adaptation theories, and (2) to create online interactive world maps, including all LP phenotype and genotype frequency data reported to date. As a result, we have created two online interactive resources, which constitute an upgrade over previously published static world maps, and allow users a personalized data exploration, while at the same time accessing complete reports by population or ethnicity.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited