The DNA test for the 'ginger gene'

by Natasha Wynarczyk

Redhead PA

A new DNA test to see if couples carry the 'ginger gene' will be available at a heritage show in London next month.

Experts at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition at London's Olympia will use a saliva test to determine whether couples could have a child with red hair.

They will be looking for any of three common variants in the MC1R gene which are responsible for red hair colour. Four in ten Brits carry this despite not being ginger themselves.

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The gene is recessive, meaning only one in four children born to two carriers will be born with red hair, and one in two will be carriers themselves.

Children who have only one parent who carries the gene will not have red hair, but half will carry the same variant which they could possibly pass onto their own children.

Speaking to the Telegraph newspaper, Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist at BritainsDNA, the ancestry company behind the test, said: 'This means that families can carry a variant for generations, and when one carrier has children with another carrier, a red-headed baby can appear seemingly out of nowhere.'

One in ten people in Ireland has red hair even though 40 per cent carry the gene. In Scotland 13 per cent have red hair and in England the figure is six per cent.

However having ginger hair is more common in the UK than in Europe, where only 1.3 per cent of people are red-heads.

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