Monday, December 3, 2012

Ancient Admixture in Human History

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Scientists have discovered that Northern European populations including British, Scandinavians, French, and some Eastern Europeans descend from a mixture of two very different ancestral populations. One of these populations is related to Native Americans.

This discovery helps fill gaps in scientific understanding of both Native American and Northern European ancestry, while providing an explanation for some genetic similarities among what would otherwise seem to be very divergent groups. This research was published in the November 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America's journal Genetics. [1]

The researchers used a software package called ADMIXTOOLS, this tell if genetic mixture occur and make infering possible, also can be used to obtain age of the mixture.  The journal describes the method: "Development of a new single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array consisting of 629,433 sites with clearly documented ascertainment that was specifically designed for population genetic analyses and that we genotyped in 934 individuals from 53 diverse populations. To illustrate the methods, we give a number of examples that provide new insights about the history of human

"There is a genetic link between the paleolithic population of Europe and modern Native Americans. The evidence is that the population that crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia into the Americas more than 15,000 years ago was likely related to the ancient population of Europe." as told by Nick Patterson the first author of the journal.
The most striking finding is a clear signal of admixture into northern Europe, with one ancestral population related to present day Basques, Sardinians, northeast Asia population and Americans. This likely reflects a history of admixture between Neolithic migrants and the indigenous Mesolithic population of Europe, consistent with recent analyses of ancient bones from Sweden and the sequencing of the genome of the Tyrolean “Iceman.”

There is another study about the admixture in african population. This tells us: "Despite the widespread study of genetic variation in admixed human populations, such as African-Americans, there has not been an evaluation of the effects of recent admixture on patterns of polymorphism or inferences about population demography. These issues are particularly relevant because estimates of the timing and magnitude of population growth in Africa have differed among previous studies, some of which examined African-American individuals. Here we use simulations and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data collected through direct resequencing and genotyping to investigate these issues. We find that when estimating the current population size and magnitude of recent growth in an ancestral population using the site frequency spectrum (SFS), it is possible to obtain reasonably accurate estimates of the parameters when using samples drawn from the admixed population under certain conditions. We also show that methods for demographic inference that use haplotype patterns are more sensitive to recent admixture than are methods based on the SFS. The analysis of human genetic variation data from the Yoruba people of Ibadan, Nigeria and African-Americans supports the predictions from the simulations. Our results have important implications for the evaluation of previous population genetic studies that have considered African-American individuals as a proxy for individuals from West Africa as well as for future population genetic studies of additional admixed populations." [2]

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[1] Ancient Admixture in Human History
[2] The Effect of Recent Admixture on Inference of Ancient Human Population History

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