Ancient DNA from S-E Europe reveals different events during Early and Middle Neolithic influencing the European genetic heritage

The importance of the process of Neolithization for the genetic make-up of European populations has been hotly debated, with shifting hypotheses from a demic diffusion (DD) to cultural diffusion (CD) model. An important source of information to assess the process of Neolithization in Europe, ancient DNA data from the Balkan Peninsula that represents the 'entrance gate' to Europe, is however missing. In the present study we present genetic information on ancient populations of the South-East of Europe, assessing mtDNA analysis from ten sites from current territory of Romania spanning a period from Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age. mtDNA data from early Neolithic farmers of the Starčevo Cris culture in Romania (Carcea, Gura Baciului and Negrilesti sites), confirm their genetic relationship with those of the LBK (Linienbandkeramik) culture in Central Europe, and they show little genetic continuity with modern European populations. On the other hand, populations of the Middle-Late Neolithic (Boian, Zau and Gumelniţa cultures), representing a second wave of Neolithic migration from Anatolia had a much stronger effect on the genetic heritage of the European populations. Little influence on European genetic composition could be demonstrated for later Bronze Age migrations. Based on these findings, we propose that gene flow and permeation of mtDNA lineages from a second wave of Middle-Late Neolithic migration from North-West Anatolia into the Balkan Peninsula and Central Europe, may have an important contribution to the genetic shift between Early and Late Neolithic populations in Europe and the genetic make-up of modern European populations.

Authors:M. HERVELLA, M. ROTEA, N. IZAGIRRE, M. CONSTANTINESCU, S. ALONSO, M. IOANA, C. LAZAR, F. RIDICHE, A. SOFICARU, M. NETEA, C. DE-LA-RUA
Publication:BMC Biology
Published: 2014
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