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Articles of Interest

An Unexpectedly Complex Architecture for Skin Pigmentation in Africans

Journal: bioRxiv | Year: 2017


Fewer than 15 genes have been directly associated with skin pigmentation variation in humans, leading to its characterization as a relatively simple trait. However, by assembling a global survey of quantitative skin pigmentation phenotypes, we demonstrate that pigmentation is more complex than previously assumed with genetic architecture varying by latitude. We investigate polygenicity in the Khoe and the San, populations indigenous to southern Africa, who have considerably lighter skin than equatorial Africans. We demonstrate that skin pigmentation is highly heritable, but that known pigmentation loci explain only a small fraction of the variance. Rather, baseline skin pigmentation is a complex, polygenic trait in the KhoeSan. Despite this, we identify canonical and non-canonical skin pigmentation loci, including near SLC24A5, TYRP1, SMARCA2/VLDLR, and SNX13 using a genome-wide association approach complemented by targeted resequencing. By considering diverse, under-studied African populations, we show how the architecture of skin pigmentation can vary across humans subject to different local evolutionary pressures.

Peoples: Khoe and San people | Places: Southern Africa | Topics: SLC24A5, SMARCA2/VLDLR, SNX13, and TYRP1 | DNA Type: Autosomal DNA

The Genomic History Of Southeastern Europe

Journal: bioRxiv | Year: 2017


Farming was first introduced to southeastern Europe in the mid-7th millennium BCE – brought by migrants from Anatolia who settled in the region before spreading throughout Europe. However, the dynamics of the interaction between the first farmers and the indigenous hunter-gatherers remain poorly understood because of the near absence of ancient DNA from the region. We report new genome-wide ancient DNA data from 204 individuals-65 Paleolithic and Mesolithic, 93 Neolithic, and 46 Copper, Bronze and Iron Age-who lived in southeastern Europe and surrounding regions between about 12,000 and 500 BCE. We document that the hunter-gatherer populations of southeastern Europe, the Baltic, and the North Pontic Steppe were distinctive from those of western Europe, with a West-East cline of ancestry. We show that the people who brought farming to Europe were not part of a single population, as early farmers from southern Greece are not descended from the Neolithic population of northwestern Anatolia that was ancestral to all other European farmers. The ancestors of the first farmers of northern and western Europe passed through southeastern Europe with limited admixture with local hunter-gatherers, but we show that some groups that remained in the region mixed extensively with local hunter-gatherers, with relatively sex-balanced admixture compared to the male-biased hunter-gatherer admixture that we show prevailed later in the North and West. After the spread of farming, southeastern Europe continued to be a nexus between East and West, with intermittent steppe ancestry, including in individuals from the Varna I cemetery and associated with the Cucuteni-Trypillian archaeological complex, up to 2,000 years before the Steppe migration that replaced much of northern Europe's population.

Peoples: | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type: Ancient DNA, Autosomal DNA, mtDNA, X-DNA, and Y-DNA

The Genetic Legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into Population Structure, Gene Flow, and Selection

Journal: bioRxiv | Year: 2017


Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest extant religions in the world, originating in Persia (present-day Iran) during the second millennium BCE. Historical records indicate that migrants from Persia brought Zoroastrianism to India, but there is debate over the timing of these migrations. Here we present novel genome-wide autosomal, Y-chromosome and mitochondrial data from Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians and neighbouring modern-day Indian and Iranian populations to conduct the first genome-wide genetic analysis in these groups. Using powerful haplotype-based techniques, we show that Zoroastrians in Iran and India show increased genetic homogeneity relative to other sampled groups in their respective countries, consistent with their current practices of endogamy. Despite this, we show that Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) intermixed with local groups sometime after their arrival in India, dating this mixture to 690-1390 CE and providing strong evidence that the migrating group was largely comprised of Zoroastrian males. By exploiting the rich information in DNA from ancient human remains, we also highlight admixture in the ancestors of Iranian Zoroastrians dated to 570 BCE-746 CE, older than admixture seen in any other sampled Iranian group, consistent with a long-standing isolation of Zoroastrians from outside groups. Finally, we report genomic regions showing signatures of positive selection in present-day Zoroastrians that might correlate to the prevalence of particular diseases amongst these communities.

Peoples: Indian Zoroastrians | Places: India and South Asia | Topics: Zoroastrianism | DNA Type: Autosomal DNA, mtDNA, and Y-DNA

2017-10-13T12:39:42+00:00 October 13th, 2017|