2015 Volume 90 Issue 3 Pages 123-131
Mutations that have occurred in human genomes provide insight into various aspects of evolutionary history such as speciation events and degrees of natural selection. Comparing genome sequences between human and great apes or among humans is a feasible approach for inferring human evolutionary history. Recent advances in high-throughput or so-called ‘next-generation’ DNA sequencing technologies have enabled the sequencing of thousands of individual human genomes, as well as a variety of reference genomes of hominids, many of which are publicly available. These sequence data can help to unveil the detailed demographic history of the lineage leading to humans as well as the explosion of modern human population size in the last several thousand years. In addition, high-throughput sequencing illustrates the tempo and mode of de novo mutations, which are producing human genetic variation at this moment. Pedigree-based human genome sequencing has shown that mutation rates vary significantly across the human genome. These studies have also provided an improved timescale of human evolution, because the mutation rate estimated from pedigree analysis is half that estimated from traditional analyses based on molecular phylogeny. Because of the dramatic reduction in sequencing cost, sequencing on-demand samples designed for specific studies is now also becoming popular. To produce data of sufficient quality to meet the requirements of the study, it is necessary to set an explicit sequencing plan that includes the choice of sample collection methods, sequencing platforms, and number of sequence reads.