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Pierron Denis

Denis Pierron
Evolutionary medicine team
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Current researchs

1-GENOMIX : How polymorphisms interact with each other and the environment to lead to adaptive or pathologic phenotype ?
In order to gain a better understanding about the interaction between polymorphisms from different genetic background, we perform a genome wide scan of the Malagasy population. Indeed this is a unique population resulting of a long-term admixture between populations coming from Indonesia and Africa. Because the genome background of original populations are very distinct, by understanding the mixing model and identifying selective signals it will be possible to characterize the beneficial and deleterious interactions between polymorphisms coming from such different genetic backgrounds.
Our approach is based on the study of genome wide scan of 1000 individuals sampled following the highest ethical and anthropological standards over 260 geographic spots. Based on this knowledge of genetic diversity, we will :
(i) Uncover the migration and admixture scenario, which have lead to present Malagasy population.
(ii) Identify the genes that have been under selection and reveal the selective constraint encounter by African and Asiatic population during the island settlement.
(iii)Understand the consequences on the metabolism genes of the admixture (iv)Determine polymorphism compatibilities and incompatibilities

2-POP-TASTE : By this project, we propose to study the influence of genetics on people’s preferences in terms of aroma and quantify the impact of genetic diversity on the evolution and transmissions of food culture during the proto-globalization in Indian Ocean.
Transmission of aliment and food culture are linked to many constraints such as ecology, demography, technology, economy, culture, norms and values. However it is still unclear why some foods have rapidly spread across the oceans, while other were not easily adopted by populations. However ethnographic and sociologic studies suggest that the hedonic feelings of food (the fact to like it or not) play a major role in the food acceptance (de Garine, 2005). For example, the durian (Durio zibethinus) is known as the "King of Fruits" and is highly cultivated in Southeast Asia but is not appreciated elsewhere due to its aroma described as strong and unpleasant. Moreover food practice such as smoking, drying, salting, fermentation of meat or fish are not uniformly adopted across the ocean despite that the population have knowledge of these process but “just don’t like the taste or the odour”. Surprisingly, in the context of the food-proto-globalization, the hedonic values of food across populations have been poorly studied.
The influence of genetic and epigenetic factors is increasingly raised. Indeed, the identification of genes encoding receptor’s taste and smell (Buck and Axel, Nobel price 2004) and the observation of there great genetic diversity has allowed the emergence of a new research associating the diversity of food perception and hedonic perception with genetic result humans. Recent works of nutrigenetics have shown that this genetic diversity can influence individual food practice (Stoover, et al, 2006 ; Laland et al, 2010). The impact of this genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic diversity on food culture at the population level is still unknown.

Positions and Research experiences

2013-2015 Principal Investigator of GENOMIX project (ANR) : Functional admixture : genomic survey of metabolic adaption due to population mix. (UMR5288 AMIS)
2011-2012 Post-doctorate fellow (granted by INSERM)
Plateforme Technologique d’Innovation Biomédicale, INSERM U1034 Université Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux (Fr.)

2009-2011 Research Associate (granted by NIH), Wayne State University (USA)

2004-2008 PhD of Molecular Anthropology (granted by CNRS [BDI])
CNRS UMR 5199, PACEA, Université Bordeaux 1, Bordeaux (Fr)


Genetic Admixture and Flavor Preferences : Androstenone Sensitivity in Malagasy Populations. Razafindrazaka H, Monnereau A, Razafindrazaka D, Tonasso L, Schiavinato S, Rakotoarisoa JA, Radimilahy C, Letellier T, Pierron D. Hum Biol. 2015 Jan ;87(1):59-70.

Genome-wide evidence of Austronesian-Bantu admixture and cultural reversion in a hunter-gatherer group of Madagascar. Pierron D, Razafindrazaka H, Pagani L, Ricaut FX, Antao T, Capredon M, Sambo C, Radimilahy C, Rakotoarisoa JA, Blench RM, Letellier T, Kivisild T. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 21 ;111(3):936-41.

Human testis-specific genes are under relaxed negative selection. Pierron D, Razafindrazaka H, Rocher C, Letellier T, Grossman LI. Mol Genet Genomics. 2014 Feb ;289(1):37-45. doi : 10.1007/s00438-013-0787-z.

Current relaxation of selection on the human genome : tolerance of deleterious mutations on olfactory receptors. Pierron D, Cortés NG, Letellier T, Grossman LI. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2013 Feb ;66(2):558-64