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The researchers, led by Manfred Kayser of Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, tried to link eye color in 6,000 Dutch people to their genetic makeup. Instead of looking at eye color in a general sense -- blue, green, brown -- as in previous studies, the researchers focused on gradations, from the lightest blue to darkest brown, using high-resolution, whole-eye photos.
The study authors linked three genes to eye color. Only one had been linked to pigmentation before, and that was in mice and cows.
"These findings are also of relevance for future forensic applications where appearance prediction from biological material found at crime scenes may provide investigative leads to trace unknown persons," Kayser said in a news release.
The study was published online May 6 in the journal PLoS Genetics.
-- Randy Dotinga
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SOURCE: PLoS Genetics, news release, May 6, 2010