Assessing the maximum contribution from ancient populations.

Sjödin P, Skoglund P, Jakobsson M

Mol. Biol. Evol. 31 (5) 1248-1260 [2014-05-00; online 2014-02-03]

Ancestral relationships between populations separated by time represent an often neglected dimension in population genetics, a field which historically has focused on analysis of spatially distributed samples from the same point in time. Models are usually straightforward when two time-separated populations are assumed to be completely isolated from all other populations. However, this is usually an unrealistically stringent assumption when there is gene flow with other populations. Here, we investigate continuity in the presence of gene flow from unknown populations. This setup allows a more nuanced treatment of questions regarding population continuity in terms of "level of contribution" from a particular ancient population to a more recent population. We propose a statistical framework which makes use of a biallelic marker sampled at two different points in time to assess population contribution, and present two different interpretations of the concept. We apply the approach to published data from a prehistoric human population in Scandinavia (Malmström H, Gilbert MTP, Thomas MG, Brandström M, Storå J, Molnar P, Andersen PK, Bendixen C, Holmlund G, Götherström A, et al. 2009. Ancient DNA reveals lack of continuity between Neolithic hunter-gatherers and contemporary Scandinavians. Curr Biol. 19:1758-1762) and Pleistocene woolly mammoth (Barnes I, Shapiro B, Lister A, Kuznetsova T, Sher A, Guthrie D, Thomas MG. 2007. Genetic structure and extinction of the woolly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius. Curr Biol. 17:1072-1075; Debruyne R, Chu G, King CE, Bos K, Kuch M, Schwarz C, Szpak P, Gröcke DR, Matheus P, Zazula G, et al. 2008. Out of America: ancient DNA evidence for a new world origin of late quaternary woolly mammoths. Curr Biol. 18:1320-1326).

Affiliated researcher

PubMed 24497031

DOI 10.1093/molbev/msu059

Crossref 10.1093/molbev/msu059

pii: msu059