Included in natural_selection theme

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Author: Iain Mathieson
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Research area: genetics
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Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe


Created on 10th October 2015

Iain Mathieson; Iosif Lazaridis; Nadin Rohland; Swapan Mallick; Nick Patterson; Songul Alpaslan Roodenberg; Eadaoin Harney; Kristin Stewardson; Daniel Fernandes; Mario Novak; Kendra Sirak; Cristina Gamba; Eppie R. Jones; Bastien Llamas; Stanislav Dryomov; Joseph Pickrell; Juan Luis Arsuaga; Jose Maria Bermudez de Castro; Eudald Carbonell; Fokke Gerritsen; Aleksandr Khokhlov; Pavel Kuznetsov; Marina Lozano; Harald Meller; Oleg Mochalov; Vayacheslav Moiseyev; Manuel A. Rojo Guerra; Jacob Roodenberg; Josep Maria Verges; Johannes Krause; Alan Cooper; Kurt W. Alt; Dorcas Brown; David Anthony; Carles Lalueza-Fox; Wolfgang Haak; Ron Pinhasi; David Reich;


The arrival of farming in Europe around 8,500 years ago necessitated adaptation to new environments, pathogens, diets, and social organizations. While indirect evidence of adaptation can be detected in patterns of genetic variation in present-day people, ancient DNA makes it possible to witness selection directly by analyzing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events. Here we report the first genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest genome-wide dataset yet assembled: 230 West Eurasians dating to between 6500 and 1000 BCE, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples include the first genome-wide data from the Anatolian Neolithic culture, who we show were members of the population that was the source of Europe's first farmers, and whose genetic material we extracted by focusing on the DNA-rich petrous bone. We identify genome-wide significant signatures of selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height.

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