Rich pickings from the past
Any study of transgenerational effects needs information from across the generations, and this is not easy to obtain in humans. There is little research on the effect of exposures in grandparents on outcomes in their grandchildren, but one such study obliges us to confront the possibility of epigenetic inheritance down the male line. Herein lies the importance for human geneticists of the work of Kaati, Bygren and Edvinsson from Umea University, Sweden. Building on their interest in early nutritional influences on cardiovascular mortality, they have exploited records of annual harvests from an isolated community in northern Sweden that go back as far as 1799 to explore the effects of food availability across three generations.