North East Europe harbors a high diversity of cultures and languages, suggesting a complex genetic history. Archaeological, anthropological, and genetic research has revealed a series of influences from Western and Eastern Eurasia in the past. While genetic data from modern-day populations is commonly used to make inferences about their origins and past migrations, ancient DNA provides a powerful test of such hypotheses by giving a snapshot of the past genetic diversity. In order to better understand the dynamics that have shaped the gene pool of North East Europeans, we generated and analyzed 34 mitochondrial genotypes from the skeletal remains of three archaeological sites in northwest Russia. These sites were dated to the Mesolithic and the Early Metal Age (7,500 and 3,500 uncalibrated years Before Present). We applied a suite of population genetic analyses (principal component analysis, genetic distance mapping, haplotype sharing analyses) and compared past demographic models through coalescent simulations using Bayesian Serial SimCoal and Approximate Bayesian Computation. Comparisons of genetic data from ancient and modern-day populations revealed significant changes in the mitochondrial makeup of North East Europeans through time. Mesolithic foragers showed high frequencies and diversity of haplogroups U (U2e, U4, U5a), a pattern observed previously in European hunter-gatherers from Iberia to Scandinavia. In contrast, the presence of mitochondrial DNA haplogroups C, D, and Z in Early Metal Age individuals suggested discontinuity with Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and genetic influx from central/eastern Siberia. We identified remarkable genetic dissimilarities between prehistoric and modern-day North East Europeans/Saami, which suggests an important role of post-Mesolithic migrations from Western Europe and subsequent population replacement/extinctions. This work demonstrates how ancient DNA can improve our understanding of human population movements across Eurasia. It contributes to the description of the spatio-temporal distribution of mitochondrial diversity and will be of significance for future reconstructions of the history of Europeans. The history of human populations can be retraced by studying the archaeological and anthropological record, but also by examining the current distribution of genetic markers, such as the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA. Ancient DNA research allows the retrieval of DNA from ancient skeletal remains and contributes to the reconstruction of the human population history through the comparison of ancient and present-day genetic data. Here, we analysed the mitochondrial DNA of prehistoric remains from archaeological sites dated to 7,500 and 3,500 years Before Present. These sites are located in North East Europe, a region that displays a significant cultural and linguistic diversity today but for which no ancient human DNA was available before. We show that prehistoric hunter-gatherers of North East Europe were genetically similar to other European foragers. We also detected a prehistoric genetic input from Siberia, followed by migrations from Western Europe into North East Europe. Our research contributes to the understanding of the origins and past dynamics of human population in Europe.
- Der Sarkissian, Clio; Balanovsky, Oleg; Brandt, Guido; Khartanovich, Valery; Buzhilova, Alexandra; Koshel, Sergey; Zaporozhchenko, Valery; Gronenborn, Detlef; Moiseyev, Vyacheslav; Kolpakov, Eugen; Shumkin, Vladimir; Alt, Kurt W.; Balanovska, Elena; Coope (2013). Ancient DNA Reveals Prehistoric Gene-Flow from Siberia in the Complex Human Population History of North East Europe. PLoS Genetics, 9(2), e1003296+.
Peoples: | Places: Europe | Topics: | DNA Type: