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Genetics and Endurance

By Zaheen Hossain

Have you ever wondered why some can perform greater tasks than others? How can athletes have so much stamina? It can be as simple as lifestyle one’s lives to as complicated as your genes. One particular gene that has shown to have affected performance has been the ACE gene. There has been a correlation between success in mountain climbing and the presence of the I version of the gene. This ACE(angiotensin-converting enzyme) gene has two different variations of the gene. One of the gene is the full length version, which is known as the insertion(I). The the other one is the deletion(D). For this one copy comes from the father and the other copy comes from the mother making the genotypes II, ID, and DD. In this, the I version gene is the dominant trait. In one study, the subjects climbed Kilimanjaro and tested whether or not they can reach the top in four days. They tested the success rates for each phenotype and found that the ones with genotype DD had a 40% success rate and this was mainly due to their low tolerance of low oxygen levels. The ID genotypes had a success rate of 60% showing that they performed better than those with the complete deletion gene. The II genotypes have shown 100% success rate and this was due to their higher resistance to lower levels of oxygen. But one might wonder why does everyone not have the the II genotype? The thing is that subjects who have the DD genes are usually stronger and have greater muscle buildup. Ideally, humans don’t have to face low levels of oxygen. Therefore, one genotype does not overall outweigh the advantages of another genotype.

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