December 29, 2015

Bronze Age people from Ireland had steppe ancestry and R1b

From the paper:
We were able to deduce that Neolithic Ballynahatty had a dark hair shade (99.5% probability), most likely black (86.1% probability), and brown eyes (97.3% probability) (46). Bronze Age Rathlin1 probably had a light hair shade (61.4%) and brown eyes (64.3%). However, each Rathlin genome possessed indication of at least one copy of a haplotype associated with blue eye color in the HERC2/OCA2 region.
Third, we followed the methods described in Haak et al. (9), which use a collection of outgroup populations, to estimate the mixture proportions of three different sources, Linearbandkeramik (Early Neolithic; 35 ± 6%), Loschbour (WHG; 26 ± 12%), and Yamnaya (39 ± 8%), in the total Irish Bronze Age group. These three approaches give an overlapping estimate of ∼32% Yamnaya ancestry.
PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1518445113

Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome

Lara M. Cassidy, Rui Martiniano et al.

The Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions were profound cultural shifts catalyzed in parts of Europe by migrations, first of early farmers from the Near East and then Bronze Age herders from the Pontic Steppe. However, a decades-long, unresolved controversy is whether population change or cultural adoption occurred at the Atlantic edge, within the British Isles. We address this issue by using the first whole genome data from prehistoric Irish individuals. A Neolithic woman (3343–3020 cal BC) from a megalithic burial (10.3× coverage) possessed a genome of predominantly Near Eastern origin. She had some hunter–gatherer ancestry but belonged to a population of large effective size, suggesting a substantial influx of early farmers to the island. Three Bronze Age individuals from Rathlin Island (2026–1534 cal BC), including one high coverage (10.5×) genome, showed substantial Steppe genetic heritage indicating that the European population upheavals of the third millennium manifested all of the way from southern Siberia to the western ocean. This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language. Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland appear at this horizon. These include those coding for lactase persistence, blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis C282Y allele; to our knowledge, the first detection of a known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish genome 4,000 y ago.


December 22, 2015

Refining Y-chromosome phylogeny with South African sequences


Refining the Y chromosome phylogeny with southern African sequences

Chiara Barbieri, Alexander Hübner, Enrico Macholdt, Shengyu Ni, Sebastian Lippold, Roland Schröder, Sununguko Wata Mpoloka, Josephine Purps, Lutz Roewer, Mark Stoneking, Brigitte Pakendorf

The recent availability of large-scale sequence data for the human Y chromosome has revolutionized analyses of and insights gained from this non-recombining, paternally inherited chromosome. However, the studies to date focus on Eurasian variation, and hence the diversity of early-diverging branches found in Africa has not been adequately documented. Here we analyze over 900 kb of Y chromosome sequence obtained from 547 individuals from southern African Khoisan and Bantu-speaking populations, identifying 232 new sequences from basal haplogroups A and B. We find new branches within haplogroups A2 and A3b1 and suggest that the prehistory of haplogroup B2a is more complex than previously suspected; this haplogroup is likely to have existed in Khoisan groups before the arrival of Bantu-speakers, who brought additional B2a lineages to southern Africa. Furthermore, we estimate older dates than obtained previously for both the A2-T node within the human Y chromosome phylogeny and for some individual haplogroups. Finally, there is pronounced variation in branch length between major haplogroups; haplogroups associated with Bantu-speakers have significantly longer branches. This likely reflects a combination of biases in the SNP calling process and demographic factors, such as an older average paternal age (hence a higher mutation rate), a higher effective population size, and/or a stronger effect of population expansion for Bantu-speakers than for Khoisan groups.


December 18, 2015

Archaic femur from Maludong, China

PLoS ONE 10(12): e0143332. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0143332

A Hominin Femur with Archaic Affinities from the Late Pleistocene of Southwest China

Darren Curnoe et al.

The number of Late Pleistocene hominin species and the timing of their extinction are issues receiving renewed attention following genomic evidence for interbreeding between the ancestors of some living humans and archaic taxa. Yet, major gaps in the fossil record and uncertainties surrounding the age of key fossils have meant that these questions remain poorly understood. Here we describe and compare a highly unusual femur from Late Pleistocene sediments at Maludong (Yunnan), Southwest China, recovered along with cranial remains that exhibit a mixture of anatomically modern human and archaic traits. Our studies show that the Maludong femur has affinities to archaic hominins, especially Lower Pleistocene femora. However, the scarcity of later Middle and Late Pleistocene archaic remains in East Asia makes an assessment of systematically relevant character states difficult, warranting caution in assigning the specimen to a species at this time. The Maludong fossil probably samples an archaic population that survived until around 14,000 years ago in the biogeographically complex region of Southwest China.