Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient DNA reveals Europe's dynamic genetic history

Date:
April 23, 2013
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.

Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.
Credit: © lily / Fotolia

Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.

The study, published today in Nature Communications, reveals a dramatic series of events including major migrations from both Western Europe and Eurasia, and signs of an unexplained genetic turnover about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

The research was performed at the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD). Researchers used DNA extracted from bone and teeth samples from prehistoric human skeletons to sequence a group of maternal genetic lineages that are now carried by up to 45% of Europeans.

The international team also included the University of Mainz in Germany and the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project.

"This is the first high-resolution genetic record of these lineages through time, and it is fascinating that we can directly observe both human DNA evolving in 'real-time', and the dramatic population changes that have taken place in Europe," says joint lead author Dr Wolfgang Haak of ACAD.

"We can follow over 4,000 years of prehistory, from the earliest farmers through the early Bronze Age to modern times."

"The record of this maternally inherited genetic group, called Haplogroup H, shows that the first farmers in Central Europe resulted from a wholesale cultural and genetic input via migration, beginning in Turkey and the Near East where farming originated and arriving in Germany around 7,500 years ago," says joint lead author Dr Paul Brotherton, formerly at ACAD and now at the University of Huddersfield, UK.

ACAD Director Professor Alan Cooper says: "What is intriguing is that the genetic markers of this first pan-European culture, which was clearly very successful, were then suddenly replaced around 4,500 years ago, and we don't know why. Something major happened, and the hunt is now on to find out what that was."

The team developed new advances in molecular biology to sequence entire mitochondrial genomes from the ancient skeletons. This is the first ancient population study using a large number of mitochondrial genomes.

"We have established that the genetic foundations for modern Europe were only established in the Mid-Neolithic, after this major genetic transition around 4,000 years ago," says Dr Haak. "This genetic diversity was then modified further by a series of incoming and expanding cultures from Iberia and Eastern Europe through the Late Neolithic."

"The expansion of the Bell Beaker culture (named after their pots) appears to have been a key event, emerging in Iberia around 2800 BC and arriving in Germany several centuries later," says Dr Brotherton. "This is a very interesting group as they have been linked to the expansion of Celtic languages along the Atlantic coast and into central Europe."

"These well-dated ancient genetic sequences provide a unique opportunity to investigate the demographic history of Europe," says Professor Cooper.

"We can not only estimate population sizes but also accurately determine the evolutionary rate of the sequences, providing a far more accurate timescale of significant events in recent human evolution."

The team has been working closely on the genetic prehistory of Europeans for the past 7-8 years.

Professor Kurt Alt (University of Mainz) says: "This work shows the power of archaeology and ancient DNA working together to reconstruct human evolutionary history through time. We are currently expanding this approach to other transects across Europe."

Genographic Project director Spencer Wells says: "Studies such as this on ancient remains serve as a valuable adjunct to the work we are doing with modern populations in the Genographic Project. While the DNA of people alive today can reveal the end result of their ancestors' ancient movements, to really understand the dynamics of how modern genetic patterns were created we need to study ancient material as well."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul Brotherton, Wolfgang Haak, Jennifer Templeton, Guido Brandt, Julien Soubrier, Christina Jane Adler, Stephen M. Richards, Clio Der Sarkissian, Robert Ganslmeier, Susanne Friederich, Veit Dresely, Mannis van Oven, Rosalie Kenyon, Mark B. Van der Hoek, Jonas Korlach, Khai Luong, Simon Y.W. Ho, Lluis Quintana-Murci, Doron M. Behar, Harald Meller, Kurt W. Alt, Alan Cooper, Syama Adhikarla, Arun Kumar Ganesh Prasad, Ramasamy Pitchappan, Arun Varatharajan Santhakumari, Elena Balanovska, Oleg Balanovsky, Jaume Bertranpetit, David Comas, Begoña Martínez-Cruz, Marta Melé, Andrew C. Clarke, Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith, Matthew C. Dulik, Jill B. Gaieski, Amanda C. Owings, Theodore G. Schurr, Miguel G. Vilar, Angela Hobbs, Himla Soodyall, Asif Javed, Laxmi Parida, Daniel E. Platt, Ajay K. Royyuru, Li Jin, Shilin Li, Matthew E. Kaplan, Nirav C. Merchant, R John Mitchell, Colin Renfrew, Daniela R. Lacerda, Fabrício R Santos, David F. Soria Hernanz, R Spencer Wells, Pandikumar Swamikrishnan, Chris Tyler-Smith, Pedro Paulo Vieira, Janet S. Ziegle. Neolithic mitochondrial haplogroup H genomes and the genetic origins of Europeans. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1764 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2656

Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Ancient DNA reveals Europe's dynamic genetic history." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423134037.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2013, April 23). Ancient DNA reveals Europe's dynamic genetic history. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423134037.htm
University of Adelaide. "Ancient DNA reveals Europe's dynamic genetic history." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423134037.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

AFP (Sep. 25, 2014) — American doctor and photographer Jeff Gusky reveals the underground quarries used by the soldiers of World War One, and the artwork they left behind which illustrates their hopes and fears. Duration: 02:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins