Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Insights From 45,000 Year Old Siberian Ancient DNA

A new study has the oldest modern human ancient DNA sequence every analyzed, from 45,000 in Siberia, assigned the name Ust’-Ishim.

Some key points:
The Y chromosome sequence of the Ust’-Ishim individual is . . . inferred to be ancestral to a group of related Y chromosomes (haplogroup K(xLT)) that occurs across Eurasia today. . . . The Ust’-Ishim mtDNA sequence falls at the root of a large group of related mtDNAs (the ‘R haplogroup’), which occurs today across Eurasia. . . . 
Based on genotyping data for 87 African and 108 non-African individuals, the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more alleles with non-Africans than with sub-Saharan Africans (|Z| = 41–89), consistent with the principal component analysis, mtDNA and Y chromosome results. . . . Among the non-Africans, the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more derived alleles with present-day people from East Asia than with present-day Europeans (|Z| = 2.1–6.4). . . . However, when an ~8,000-year-old genome from western Europe (La Braña) or a 24,000-year-old genome from Siberia (Mal’ta 1) were analysed, there is no evidence that the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more derived alleles with present-day East Asians than with these prehistoric individuals (|Z| < 2). This suggests that the population to which the Ust’-Ishim individual belonged diverged from the ancestors of present-day West Eurasian and East Eurasian populations before—or simultaneously with—their divergence from each other. The finding that the Ust’-Ishim individual is equally closely related to present-day Asians and to 8,000- to 24,000-year-old individuals from western Eurasia, but not to present-day Europeans, is compatible with the hypothesis that present-day Europeans derive some of their ancestry from a population that did not participate in the initial dispersals of modern humans into Europe and Asia.

Assuming that this corresponds to the number of mutations that have accumulated over around 45,000 years, we estimate a mutation rate of 0.43 × 10−9 per site per year (95% CI 0.38 × 10−9 to 0.49 × 10−9) that is consistent across all non-African genomes regardless of their coverage. This overall rate, as well as the relative rates inferred for different mutational classes (transversions, non-CpG transitions, and CpG transitions), is similar to the rate observed for de novo estimates from human pedigrees (~0.5 × 10−9 per site per year14, 15) and to the direct estimate of branch shortening. As discussed elsewhere, these rates are slower than those estimated using calibrations based on the fossil record and thus suggest older dates for the splits of modern human and archaic populations. [Ed. by Dienekes This is a very direct confirmation of the "slow" autosomal rate of ~1.2x10-8 mutations/generation/bp using a technology much different than those used before to estimate this. The slower mutation rate implies that major splits in human history (such as the Out-of-Africa event) took place much earlier than the Upper Paleolithic revolution and the spread of humans across Eurasia.] . . .

[W]e estimate that the admixture between the ancestors of the Ust’-Ishim individual and Neanderthals occurred approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years BP, which is close to the time of the major expansion of modern humans out of Africa and the Middle East.
In other words, this person lived just 5,000-15,000 years after Neanderthal admixture, a time which is on the recent end of other estimates of the timing of this event.

As a minor point, the discovery of 45,000 modern human remains in Siberia at all, provides a strong direct calibration point from which modern humans were known to be present at a specific out of Africa location.

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