Ancient mitochondrial DNA from the northern fringe of the Neolithic farming expansion in Europe sheds light on the dispersion process.

Malmström H, Linderholm A, Skoglund P, Storå J, Sjödin P, Gilbert MT, Holmlund G, Willerslev E, Jakobsson M, Lidén K, Götherström A

Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 370 (1660) 20130373 [2015-01-19; online 2014-12-10]

The European Neolithization process started around 12 000 years ago in the Near East. The introduction of agriculture spread north and west throughout Europe and a key question has been if this was brought about by migrating individuals, by an exchange of ideas or a by a mixture of these. The earliest farming evidence in Scandinavia is found within the Funnel Beaker Culture complex (Trichterbecherkultur, TRB) which represents the northernmost extension of Neolithic farmers in Europe. The TRB coexisted for almost a millennium with hunter-gatherers of the Pitted Ware Cultural complex (PWC). If migration was a substantial part of the Neolithization, even the northerly TRB community would display a closer genetic affinity to other farmer populations than to hunter-gatherer populations. We deep-sequenced the mitochondrial hypervariable region 1 from seven farmers (six TRB and one Battle Axe complex, BAC) and 13 hunter-gatherers (PWC) and authenticated the sequences using postmortem DNA damage patterns. A comparison with 124 previously published sequences from prehistoric Europe shows that the TRB individuals share a close affinity to Central European farmer populations, and that they are distinct from hunter-gatherer groups, including the geographically close and partially contemporary PWC that show a close affinity to the European Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

Affiliated researcher

PubMed 25487325

DOI 10.1098/rstb.2013.0373

Crossref 10.1098/rstb.2013.0373

pii: rstb.2013.0373
pmc: PMC4275881
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Publications 7.1.2