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Bell Beakers and R1b

Gene Expression
By Razib Khan
May 6, 2012 9:20 AMNov 20, 2019 1:57 AM


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Over at Dienekes blog he has a post up about the extraction of R1b from a male who lived in Germany 4-5,000 in the past. This is important because R1b is one of the two most common male lineages (on the Y chromosome, passed from father to son) in Europe, and, it has inexplicably been underrepresented or absent in the ancient DNA samples. The other modal lineage is R1a (it too is underrepresented). I have a pretty good grasp of variation on the autosomal dimension. A modest familiarity with uniparental lineages, Y and mtDNA. And finally, a rather weak understanding of archaeological patterns. Since mtDNA tends to be found at very high concentrations in subfossil remains you'll get a good yield of that in the near future (as in the paper Dienekes covers). Y chromosomal information is more difficult. The problem with autosomal information is that you need more of it to make robust genealogical inferences (due to confounding with selection, as well as recombination breaking apart haplotypes), though if you manage to hit a functional region that can be very informative. I assume in the year 2020, and perhaps well earlier, we'll be able to pull up a "genetic map of Europe" circa 4,000 BC. But that is going to take some time, and until then we'll have to grapple with light and lacunae biased by the methods on hand and the caprice of nature. And even then we'll have to have some understanding of the history and geography of human material culture. So I guess I have some reading to do...at some point. But until then, check out Dienekes comments. He moderates with a light touch, so there's a lot of deleterious memetic garbage in the land of near neutrality, but there's signal to extract within the lot. My lack of archaeological knowledge notwithstanding, I agree with David that it looks as if there was a sweep of cultures, and to some extent genes, from the eastern Mediterranean out to Western Europe, and then back east through North Europe. One other thing I will also suggest: these cultural patterns probably spread through the expansion of male lineages. I suspect this explains why total genome variation in Europe seems to be partitioned between a northern and southern component (i.e., the British have more in common with Russians than they do with the Spaniards, and Greeks more with Spaniards than they do with Russians), but the two modal Y chromosomal lineages seem to exhibit a west-east pattern. The expansion of male lineages may have been an overlay upon the earlier population structure. Image credit:

Wikipedia, Wikipedia

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