GeoGenetics - What analyzing Ancient DNA tells us.


Well-known member
  • Mar 29, 2017
    This refers to an extraordinary study involved a large international team led by Professor Eske Willerslev at the Universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen, Professor Thomas Werge at the University of Copenhagen, and Professor Rasmus Nielsen at the University of California, Berkeley, and involved contributions from 175 researchers from around the globe.

    Researchers have created the world's largest ancient human gene bank by analyzing the bones and teeth of almost 5,000 humans who lived across Western Europe and Asia up to 34,000 years ago. The Willerslev group aims to understand the histories of past human populations, their diseases, and changes of biological communities.

    What they found:
    • The startling origins of neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis
    • Why northern Europeans today are taller than people from southern Europe
    • How major migration around 5,000 years ago introduced risk genes into the population in north-western Europe – leaving a legacy of higher rates of MS today
    • Carrying the MS gene was an advantage at the time as it protected ancient farmers from catching infectious diseases from their sheep and cattle
    • Genes known to increase the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer's and type 2 diabetes were traced back to hunter-gatherers
    • Future analysis is hoped to reveal more about the genetic markers of autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression

    By analyzing the DNA of ancient human bones and teeth found at documented locations across Eurasia, researchers traced the geographical spread of MS from its origins on the Pontic Steppe (a region spanning parts of what are now Ukraine, South-West Russia, and West Kazakhstan Region).
    They found that the genetic variants associated with a risk of developing MS 'travelled' with the Yamnaya people - livestock herders who migrated over the Pontic Steppe into North-Western Europe.

    These genetic variants provided a survival advantage to the Yamnaya people, most likely by protecting them from catching infections from their sheep and cattle. But they also increased the risk of developing MS.
    The age of specimens ranges from the Mesolithic and Neolithic through the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Viking period into the Middle Ages. The oldest genome in the data set is from an individual who lived approximately 34,000 years ago.

    The findings provide an explanation for the 'North-South Gradient,' in which there are around twice as many modern-day cases of MS in northern Europe than in southern Europe, which has long been a mystery to researchers.

    From a genetic perspective, the Yamnaya people are thought to be the ancestors of the present-day inhabitants of much of North-Western Europe. Their genetic influence on today's population of southern Europe is much weaker.

    Previous studies have identified 233 genetic variants that increase the risk of developing MS. These variants, also affected by environmental and lifestyle factors, increase disease risk by around 30 percent. The new research found that this modern-day genetic risk profile for MS is also present in bones and teeth that are thousands of years old.

    The team now plans to investigate other neurological conditions, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and psychiatric disorders, including ADHD and schizophrenia.


    Well-known member
  • Sep 28, 2012
    neurodegenerative diseases. What are the symptoms associated with this condition?