Eachtra Journal

ISSN 2009-2237

New PLos biology article on genetic origins of Europeans

February, 2010 · Written by: John Tierney Print This Page

A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for European Paternal Lineages


The relative contributions to modern European populations of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers from the Near East have been intensely debated. Haplogroup R1b1b2 (R-M269) is the commonest European Y-chromosomal lineage, increasing in frequency from east to west, and carried by 110 million European men. Previous studies suggested a Paleolithic origin, but here we show that the geographical distribution of its microsatellite diversity is best explained by spread from a single source in the Near East via Anatolia during the Neolithic. Taken with evidence on the origins of other haplogroups, this indicates that most European Y chromosomes originate in the Neolithic expansion. This reinterpretation makes Europe a prime example of how technological and cultural change is linked with the expansion of a Y-chromosomal lineage, and the contrast of this pattern with that shown by maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA suggests a unique role for males in the transition.

Patricia Balaresque1Georgina R. Bowden1Susan M. Adams1Ho-Yee Leung1Turi E. King1Zoë H. Rosser1,Jane Goodwin2Jean-Paul Moisan3Christelle Richard3Ann Millward4Andrew G. Demaine4Guido Barbujani5Carlo Previderè6Ian J. Wilson7Chris Tyler-Smith8Mark A. Jobling1*

1 Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom,2 Ty Celyn, Maeshafod, Blaina, Gwent, United Kingdom, 3 Laboratoire d’Etude du Polymorphisme de l’ADN, Faculté de Médecine, Nantes, France, 4Molecular Medicine Research Group, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom, 5 Dipartimento di Biologia ed Evoluzione, Università di Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy, 6 Dipartimento di Medicina Legale e Sanità Pubblica, Università di Pavia, Pavia, Italy, 7 Institute of Human Genetics, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 8 The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, United Kingdom

Source (http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000285)