Ancient genomes reveal demographic history of France

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES—A large genomic dataset reveals ancient demographic events that accompanied the transition to agriculture and changes in metallurgic practices in France, according to a study*. The analysis of ancient genomes has revealed how demographic events such as migrations have spurred major cultural shifts and shaped the genetic makeup of present-day populations in Europe. However, such analysis for France has been limited to relatively few archeological sites and partial genomic data. Thierry Grange, Eva-Maria Geigl, Melanie Pruvost, and colleagues analyzed mitochondrial genomes and 120 genetic variants in the nuclear genomes of 243 individuals sampled from 54 French archeological sites representing a 7,000-year time span, from the Mesolithic period, before the onset of agriculture, to the Iron Age. Analysis of genomic data from three Mesolithic individuals revealed the late survival of Magdalenian-associated ancestry in hunter-gatherer populations beyond the Iberian Peninsula, suggesting that these populations expanded at the end of the Paleolithic period into regions that are more northerly than those previously reported. The first Neolithic people who migrated to France descended from Anatolian farmers, who later mixed with hunter-gatherer populations. At the onset of the Bronze Age, there was substantial gene flow from individuals deriving part of their ancestry from Pontic Steppe herders. According to the authors, the findings provide a comprehensive view of the genomic and demographic history of Europe during major cultural transitions.

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Samantha Brunel examining a skull in Institut Jacques Monod ‘s high containment laboratory (CNRS/Université de Paris) © Eva-Maria Geigl et Thierry Grange, Institut Jacques Monod (CNRS/Université de Paris)

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Article Source: PNAS news release

*”Ancient genomes from present-day France unveil 7,000 years of its demographic history,” by Samantha Brunel et al.

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