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Sunday, May 24, 2009

R1a-rich ancient Siberians may have been as blond as today's Northern Europeans - take 2

Hot on the heels of that recent Bouakaze et al. paper on the pigmentation genetics of prehistoric South Siberians, here's another effort featuring the same samples. This paper attempts to further elucidate the origins of these light-pigmented Kurgan nomads.

Our autosomal, Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA analyses reveal that whereas few specimens seem to be related matrilineally or patrilineally, nearly all subjects belong to haplogroup R1a1-M17 which is thought to mark the eastward migration of the early Indo-Europeans. Our results also confirm that at the Bronze and Iron Ages, south Siberia was a region of overwhelmingly predominant European settlement, suggesting an eastward migration of Kurgan people across the Russo-Kazakh steppe. Finally, our data indicate that at the Bronze and Iron Age timeframe, south Siberians were blue (or green)-eyed, fair-skinned and light-haired people and that they might have played a role in the early development of the Tarim Basin civilization.

Christine Keyser et al., Ancient DNA provides new insights into the history of south Siberian Kurgan people, Human Genetics, Saturday, May 16, 2009, doi: 10.1007/s00439-009-0683-0

Monday, May 18, 2009

R1a-rich ancient Siberians may have been as blond as today's Northern Europeans

More than 60% of the Kurgan (including Scytho-Siberian) samples successfully tested for pigmentation markers in a new study by Bouakaze et al. are inferred to have been blue- or green-eyed and fair-haired:

In the present study, a multiplexed genotyping assay for ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located within six pigmentation candidate genes was developed on modern biological samples and applied to DNA retrieved from 25 archaeological human remains from southern central Siberia dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages. SNP genotyping was successful for the majority of ancient samples and revealed that most probably had typical European pigment features, i.e., blue or green eye color, light hair color and skin type, and were likely of European individual ancestry.

The Y-DNA haplogroups reported for the ancient individuals include seven R1a1a and a single C (xC3). On the other hand, the mtDNA results show a lot more variety, with the following haplogroups present: U2e, U4 (2 instances), U5a1, H or U (3 instances), K2b, H5a, HV, T1 (2 instances), T3 (2 instances), T4, I, C (2 instances) F1b, G2a, N9a and Z.

The majority of the males who belonged to Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1 were very similar in terms of the few analyzed nuclear markers to the European reference population (Utah Americans from the HapMap project). On the other hand, the individual with haplogroup C clustered close to East Asians (HapMap Han Chinese and Japanese), along with another sample for which a Y-haplogroup assignment wasn't available.

Caroline Bouakaze et al., Pigment phenotype and biogeographical ancestry from ancient skeletal remains: inferences from multiplexed autosomal SNP analysis, International Journal of Legal Medicine doi:10.1007/s00414-009-0348-5

See also...

R1a-rich ancient Siberians may have been as blond as today's Northern Europeans - take 2