Tags: irish genome | middle east | eurasia

Irish Genome Traced Back to Middle East, Eurasian Steppes

Image: Irish Genome Traced Back to Middle East, Eurasian Steppes
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By    |   Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 10:43 AM

A recent genome study showed that Ireland's early population may have migrated there from as far away as the Middle East and Eurasia.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study said researchers made that determination after examining the DNA of a female farmer who lived in Ireland some 5,200 years ago and three Irish men from the Bronze Age about 4,000 years ago, reported the Belfast Telegraph.

The woman's ancestry could be tracked to the Middle East, where agriculture was invented. Roughly one-third of the men's ancestry led to the Pontic Steppe, a region of flat grassland extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains.

"Modern Europe has been shaped by two episodes in prehistory, the advent of agriculture and later metallurgy," said the study.

"These innovations brought not only massive cultural change but also, in certain parts of the continent, a change in genetic structure. The manner in which these transitions affected the islands of Ireland and Britain on the northwestern edge of the continent remains the subject of debate."

The researchers said they found the men had a genetic mutation associated with an excess iron disorder, haemochromatosis, noted the Telegraph. The disorder is so common in people of Irish descent that it is sometimes referred to as a Celtic disease.

"Genetic affinity is strongest between the Bronze Age genomes and modern Irish, Scottish and Welsh, suggesting establishment of central attributes of the insular Celtic genome some 4,000 years ago," said Lara Cassidy of Trinity College, the study's co-author.

Dan Bradley, the lead author of the study, said there was a great deal of genome change in Europe from above the Black Sea into Bronze Age Europe.

"This degree of genetic change invites the possibility of other associated changes, perhaps even the introduction of language ancestral to western Celtic tongues," said Bradley.

Eileen Murphy of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology at the Queen's University in Belfast, told The Guardian that the study is another example of how ancient DNA is providing clues that had long remained a mystery.

"It is clear that this project has demonstrated what a powerful tool ancient DNA analysis can provide in answering questions which have long perplexed academics regarding the origins of the Irish."


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A recent genome study showed that Ireland's early population may have migrated there from as far away as the Middle East and Eurasia.
irish genome, middle east, eurasia
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Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 10:43 AM
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