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Name: Matt D.
Status: Other
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: June 2002


Question:
Dear Scientist(s),

I read the archives regarding eye polygenetics. Great stuff. Our children have steel-blue / hazel eyes. I am white; my eyes are light brown with a small green portion at the bottom of the iris; my mother has blue eyes. My wife is Korean, with what I would call 3/4 dark brown eyes. I heard from a friend that children of white and Korean parents could have non-brown eyes because Koreans can trace their roots to Mongolia, and there are Mongolians with green eyes. He knows of another couple like us that have children with green/hazel eyes. Before forwarding a possible urban / antropological legend as the reason for our children's eye color, I'd like to hear if this Mongolian theory could have some truth to it or not.



Replies:
Eye color is far more complex than most texts indicate. It seems that, In humans, at least three genes are involved in eye color. What most books indicate is a simple dominance of brown over blue and ignore the greens, shades of brown and blues. Hazel eye color (light brown), almost black to moderate browns, and the various shades of blue (from very light to deep) are obviously expressions of a more complex array of genes than a single gene with two alleles or even two genes. The genetics of eye color is NOT even reasonably understood in my opinion. It is possible that not only pigments derived form different proteins but subtle variations in iris structure might be involved...

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Science Education
Office of Science
Department of Energy



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