April 28, 2018

Video: Do genes make you fat?

I don't usually deal with the medical aspects of genetics but this conference by Giles Yeo is so enticing and clarifying that I believe it deserves an entry here:

April 8, 2018

Luxmanda: a 3,000 years-old proto-Horner in Tanzania

I knew, more intuitively than rationally, that the Horner (Ethiopian, Somali, Eritrean) type of Afro-Eurasian admixture was very old but no idea it was so much. I knew that West Eurasian Upper Paleolithic had an impact on Africa (LSA) but I did not know it went so deep South nor that it had left such a massive legacy as ancient DNA reveals.

Pontus Skoglund et al. Reconstructing Prehistoric African Population Structure. Cell 2017 (open access). DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2017.08.049

The data analysis speaks volumes by itself:

Figure 1 - Overview of Ancient Genomes and African Population Structure

Figure S2 - Ancient Individuals and African Population Structure

Figure 2 - Ancestral Components in Eastern and Southern Africa

We show bar plots with the proportions inferred for the best model for each target population. We used a model that inferred the ancestry of each target population as 1-source, 2-source, or 3-source mixture of a set of potential source populations.

So much that I don't really know what else to say. Of course this is just a sample of what there is in the paper, read it. I'm sure there will be plenty of comments even if the study was published months ago.

Regarding haploid DNA, I don't see anything outstanding but, as I know there is generally quite a bit of interest, these are screenshots of the ancient lineages found (full data in the supp. materials of the study):

Ancient Y-DNA (screenshot)
Ancient mtDNA (screenshot)

Related: No Iberian in Iberomaurusian.

Correction: I first titled this "a 30,000 years-old...". That was a major error on my part and I apologize for any confusion it may have caused. Thanks to Capra Internetensis for spotting it.

No Iberian in Iberomaurusian

After almost a century of controversy on the matter, it seems that archaeogenetics solved the riddle. Not in the sense I thought it would but it did anyhow.

Ancient DNA samples from Taforalt (Iberomaurusian or Oranian culture, Upper Paleolithic of North Africa) show no trace of Paleoeuropean ancestry (WHG), however they show strong affinity to West Asians of Palestinian type, showing also some significant amount of African Aboriginal ancestry, probably closer to East African Hadza and Sandawe and ancient Mota than to West African types. The result is something roughly similar to Afars but not quite the same in any case. 

Fig. S8 - Taforalt individuals on the top PCs of present-day African, Near Eastern and South European populations.

Fig. S11 - ADMIXTURE results for a few informative K values.

So the conclusion must thus be that the Eurasian influence in North African Upper Paleolithic (call it Iberomaurusian, Oranian or my personal unorthodox preference: Taforaltian) arrived from West Asia with whichever intermediate stage in Egypt and Cyrenaica, where that influence is quite apparently much older in the archaeological record. This seems contradictory to the chronology of Taforaltian, with Western sites producing older radiocarbon dates but the genetic data seems overwhelming. 

I must say I wish they would have contrasted with older (and available) Paleoeuropean samples than WHG (Epipaleolithic) but I guess that some WHG influence would have shown up if there was some older European influx because the various Paleoeuropean layers are not disconnected. But it is still something someone should test, just in case. 

Haploid DNA

The Taforalt sample was rich in mtDNA U6a, with also one instance of M1b:

All six male samples carried Y-DNA E1b1b, with most of them being well defined as E1b1b1a1-M78 (see table S16 for details).

Related: Luxmanda: a 3,000 years-old proto-Horner in Tanzania.

April 4, 2018

North African Neolithic was influenced by Europe... and European Chalcolithic by Iberian Neolithic

Or so it seems considering the data of Fregel et al., a study I have in my to-do list for some time and that I don't see cited often or ever at all.

Rosa Fregel et al., Neolithization of North Africa involved the migration of people from both the Levant and Europe. BioRxiv 2017 (pre-pub). DOI:10.1101/191569

The critical piece is probably this selection from Admixture results but which repeats over and over through the study with many more analyzed populations from all West Eurasia and North Africa:

We see how KEB (Morocco Neolithic) is a mix of European Neolithic intermediate between Iberia (purple) and Sardinian (blue) on one side and, on the other, something like Mozabites (not shown in this detail, cream). TOR is a new Neolithic sample from Andalusia.

Another ancient Moroccan sample IAM (pre-Neolithic, not shown here either) is fully cream-colored like mostly are modern Mozabites. 

Interestingly we see for the first time the emergency of a purple-colored component that differentiates Iberian Early Neolithic from the rest (although this does not happen at lower K-values, so they are still related), a component that, in the MNChL (Middle Neolithic and Chalcolithic) period, somehow appears as dominant in Italy (no data for earlier times) and becomes quite dominant in Central Europe. 

This is intriguing to say the least. It must be said that modern Sardinians and Basques (these probably, not labeled) are low in the purple component, although less than other populations, and that somehow the Early Neolithic (blue) component made a comeback:

I do not want to over-interpret all this (autosomal genetics are not an exact science) but, judging on KEB, the purple component is not just a generic southern branch (Cardium Pottery) distinction but something specifically Iberian or Italo-Iberian. The matter needs more research but it is in any case very intriguing that the purple component seems to expand from Iberia or somewhere nearby (France?, Italy?) in the period leading to the Chalcolithic, a most critical one in the formation of the genetics of Europe.

There is a also a little hoard of DNAmt and Y-DNA, with G2a-M201 (in Europe), E1b-L19* (in pre-Neolithic North Africa) and T-M184 (in Neolithic North Africa) in the patrilineal side and quite a bit of varied K1a in the matrilineal one, as well as JT (also in both shores) and U6 and M1 in North Africa.

Worth reading and keeping in mind, no doubt.