The World Cup has drawn more than rabid soccer fans to Brazil. A team of filmmakers are on the ground in Rio de Janeiro documenting the science behind the games, including an exoskeletal kick-off, the genetics of competition, and even the biochemistry of diehard spectators.
Here's Imagine Science Films' take on Genes, the final mini-documentary in their "Field Work: World Cup" series:
Imagine Science Films teams up with Mayana Zatz, Director of the Human Genome Research Center in Sao Paulo, to discuss athletic disposition in Genes.
Top players are physically and psychologically trained to endure the World Cup. But, how do genes affect their game? Is there such thing as a "sports gene"? Although there is no single gene that dictates star athletes, certain gene mutations can contribute to athletic ability.
An athlete's genome can be a large factor in muscle composition, and thus affinity toward a sport. Zatz became interested in the study of neuromuscular control and the role of genetics on muscle composition. She has since dedicated her career to the study of muscular dystrophy, and specifically the effect of stem cell therapies on muscle regeneration. In 1981, Zatz and her team founded the Brazilian Muscular Dystrophy Association, one of the largest centers for genetic disorders in Latin America.