Have you ever wondered why so many men seem to have ginger beards – or even a hint of ginger if they fail to shave, even if that’s not their natural hair colour?
Well now the mystery has been cleared up by one specialist, who works at the Dutch national information centre for genetics and hereditary traits.
Apparently, it’s all down to a genetic mutation and means that you can have totally different colours of hair on your head, face and pubes – so the curtains might not match the drapes, even if you have your natural hair colour.
Petra Haak-Bloem claimed:
The genes that determine hair colour are so-called ‘incomplete dominant hereditary traits’. This means that there isn’t one single gene that’s dominant over the rest, but all genes influence each other.
Generally speaking, people inherit hair colour not only from their parents, but also from their grandparents and earlier ancestors. So it’s entirely possible that one distant ancestor had a hair colour that suddenly appears again though a certain combination of genes – and that can be quite unexpected for parents.
More than a decade ago, researchers discovered that one gene (MC1R) on chromosome 16 plays an important part in giving people red hair. MC1R’s task is making a protein called melanocortin 1.
That proteine plays an important part in converting pheolmelanine into eumelanine. When someone inherits two mutated versions of the MC1R-gene (one from each parent), less pheomelanine is converted into eumelanine. The feomelanine accumulates in the pigment cells and the person ends up with red hair and fair skin.
So there you have it.
The MC1R gene and hereditary genetics are the reason for ginger beards. Who knew?