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Ancestry and demography and descendants of Iron Age nomads of the Eurasian Steppe - supplementary information

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... Population admixture models were constructed using qpAdm 1 with two different sets of outgroups designed to distinguish between ancestral components of major relevance to the questions addressed. The first set was used to discriminate between the Steppe_EMBA and the Steppe_MLBA clusters, and between Han and BHG_BA, respectively, as sources, in order to assess previous claims on Scythian origins 11 . The first two meta-populations are differentiated by the European Neolithic farmer ancestry in the latter, and the second two meta-populations are differentiated as one represents an East Asian component widely distributed in Siberia, while the other represents a Mongolian/Han/South East Asian component that are discernable in ADMIXTURE analyses. ...
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A series of studies have documented how Steppe pastoralist-related ancestry reached central Europe by at least 2500 BCE, while Iranian farmer-related ancestry was present in Aegean Europe by at least 1900 BCE. However, the spread of these ancestries into the western Mediterranean where they have contributed to many populations living today remains poorly understood. We generated genome-wide ancient DNA from the Balearic Islands, Sicily, and Sardinia, increasing the number of individuals with reported data from these islands from 3 to 52. We obtained data from the oldest skeleton excavated from the Balearic islands (dating to ~2400 BCE), and show that this individual had substantial Steppe pastoralist-derived ancestry; however, later Balearic individuals had less Steppe heritage reflecting geographic heterogeneity or immigration from groups with more European first farmer-related ancestry. In Sicily, Steppe pastoralist ancestry arrived by ~2200 BCE and likely came at least in part from Spain as it was associated with Iberian-specific Y chromosomes. In Sicily, Iranian-related ancestry also arrived by the Middle Bronze Age, thus revealing that this ancestry type, which was ubiquitous in the Aegean by this time, also spread further west prior to the classical period of Greek expansion. In Sardinia, we find no evidence of either eastern ancestry type in the Nuragic Bronze Age, but show that Iranian-related ancestry arrived by at least ~300 BCE and Steppe ancestry arrived by ~300 CE, joined at that time or later by North African ancestry. These results falsify the view that the people of Sardinia are isolated descendants of Europe's first farmers. Instead, our results show that the island's admixture history since the Bronze Age is as complex as that in many other parts of Europe.
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The arrival of farming in Europe around 8,500 years ago necessitated adaptation to new environments, pathogens, diets, and social organizations. While indirect evidence of adaptation can be detected in patterns of genetic variation in present-day people, ancient DNA makes it possible to witness selection directly by analyzing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events. Here we report the first genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest genome-wide dataset yet assembled: 230 West Eurasians dating to between 6500 and 1000 BCE, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples include the first genome-wide data from the Anatolian Neolithic culture, who we show were members of the population that was the source of Europe's first farmers, and whose genetic material we extracted by focusing on the DNA-rich petrous bone. We identify genome-wide significant signatures of selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height.
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Motivation: Approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) methods provide an elaborate approach to Bayesian inference on complex models, including model choice. Both theoretical arguments and simulation experiments indicate, however, that model posterior probabilities may be poorly evaluated by standard ABC techniques. Results: We propose a novel approach based on a machine learning tool named random forests to conduct selection among the highly complex models covered by ABC algorithms. We thus modify the way Bayesian model selection is both understood and operated, in that we rephrase the inferential goal as a classification problem, first predicting the model that best fits the data with random forests and postponing the approximation of the posterior probability of the predicted MAP for a second stage also relying on random forests. Compared with earlier implementations of ABC model choice, the ABC random forest approach offers several potential improvements: (i) it often has a larger discriminative power among the competing models, (ii) it is more robust against the number and choice of statistics summarizing the data, (iii) the computing effort is drastically reduced (with a gain in computation efficiency of at least fifty), and (iv) it includes an approximation of the posterior probability of the selected model. The call to random forests will undoubtedly extend the range of size of datasets and complexity of models that ABC can handle. We illustrate the power of this novel methodology by analyzing controlled experiments as well as genuine population genetics datasets. Availability: The proposed methodologies are implemented in the R package abcrf available on the CRAN.
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Ancient DNA makes it possible to observe natural selection directly by analysing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events. Here we report a genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest ancient DNA data set yet assembled: 230 West Eurasians who lived between 6500 and 300 bc, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples include, to our knowledge, the first genome-wide ancient DNA from Anatolian Neolithic farmers, whose genetic material we obtained by extracting from petrous bones, and who we show were members of the population that was the source of Europe's first farmers. We also report a transect of the steppe region in Samara between 5600 and 300 bc, which allows us to identify admixture into the steppe from at least two external sources. We detect selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height.
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The Bronze Age of Eurasia (around 3000-1000 BC) was a period of major cultural changes. However, there is debate about whether these changes resulted from the circulation of ideas or from human migrations, potentially also facilitating the spread of languages and certain phenotypic traits. We investigated this by using new, improved methods to sequence low-coverage genomes from 101 ancient humans from across Eurasia. We show that the Bronze Age was a highly dynamic period involving large-scale population migrations and replacements, responsible for shaping major parts of present-day demographic structure in both Europe and Asia. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesized spread of Indo-European languages during the Early Bronze Age. We also demonstrate that light skin pigmentation in Europeans was already present at high frequency in the Bronze Age, but not lactose tolerance, indicating a more recent onset of positive selection on lactose tolerance than previously thought.
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