Luísa Pereira

University of Porto, Oporto, Porto, Portugal

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Publications (79)384.6 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: There are two very different interpretations of the prehistory of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA), with genetic evidence invoked in support of both. The "out-of-Taiwan" model proposes a major Late Holocene expansion of Neolithic Austronesian speakers from Taiwan. An alternative, proposing that Late Glacial/postglacial sea-level rises triggered largely autochthonous dispersals, accounts for some otherwise enigmatic genetic patterns, but fails to explain the Austronesian language dispersal. Combining mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y-chromosome and genome-wide data, we performed the most comprehensive analysis of the region to date, obtaining highly consistent results across all three systems and allowing us to reconcile the models. We infer a primarily common ancestry for Taiwan/ISEA populations established before the Neolithic, but also detected clear signals of two minor Late Holocene migrations, probably representing Neolithic input from both Mainland Southeast Asia and South China, via Taiwan. This latter may therefore have mediated the Austronesian language dispersal, implying small-scale migration and language shift rather than large-scale expansion.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Human Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: Genome-wide studies of African populations have the potential to reveal powerful insights into the evolution of our species as these diverse populations have been exposed to intense selective pressures imposed by infectious diseases, diet and environmental factors. Within Africa, the Sahel Belt extensively overlaps the geographical center of several endemic infections such as malaria, trypanosomiasis, meningitis and hemorrhagic fevers. We screened 2.5 million SNPs in 161 individuals from 13 Sahelian populations which together with published data cover Western, Central and Eastern Sahel, and include both nomadic and sedentary groups. We confirmed the role of this belt as a main corridor for human migrations across the continent. Strong admixture was observed in both Central and Eastern Sahelian populations, with North Africans and Near Eastern/Arabians respectively, but it was inexistent in Western Sahelian populations. Genome-wide local ancestry inference in admixed Sahelian populations revealed several candidate regions that were significantly enriched for non-autochthonous haplotypes, and many showed to be under positive selection. The DARC gene region in Arabs and Nubians was enriched for African ancestry, while the RAB3GAP1/LCT/MCM6 region in Oromo, the TAS2R gene family in Fulani and the ALMS1/NAT8 in Turkana and Samburu were enriched for non-African ancestry. Signals of positive selection varied in terms of geographic amplitude. Some genomic regions were selected across the belt, the most striking example being the malaria-related DARC gene. Others were Western-specific (oxytocin, calcium and heart pathways), Eastern-specific (lipid pathways) or even population-restricted (TAS2R genes in Fulani which may reflect sexual selection).
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Genome Biology and Evolution
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    ABSTRACT: Determining the timing, identity and direction of migrations in the Mediterranean Basin, the role of "migratory routes" in and among regions of Africa, Europe and Asia, and the effects of sex-specific behaviors of population movements have important implications for our understanding of the present human genetic diversity. A crucial component of the Mediterranean world is its westernmost region. Clear features of transcontinental ancient contacts between North African and Iberian populations surrounding the maritime region of Gibraltar Strait have been identified from archeological data. The attempt to discern origin and dates of migration between close geographically related regions has been a challenge in the field of uniparental-based population genetics. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) studies have been focused on surveying the H1, H3 and V lineages when trying to ascertain north-south migrations, and U6 and L in the opposite direction, assuming that those lineages are good proxies for the ancestry of each side of the Mediterranean. To this end, in the present work we have screened entire mtDNA sequences belonging to U6, M1 and L haplogroups in Andalusians-from Huelva and Granada provinces-and Moroccan Berbers. We present here pioneer data and interpretations on the role of NW Africa and the Iberian Peninsula regarding the time of origin, number of founders and expansion directions of these specific markers. The estimated entrance of the North African U6 lineages into Iberia at 10 ky correlates well with other L African clades, indicating that U6 and some L lineages moved together from Africa to Iberia in the Early Holocene. Still, founder analysis highlights that the high sharing of lineages between North Africa and Iberia results from a complex process continued through time, impairing simplistic interpretations. In particular, our work supports the existence of an ancient, frequently denied, bridge connecting the Maghreb and Andalusia.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: A high-resolution mtDNA phylogenetic tree allowed us to look backward in time to investigate purifying selection. Purifying selection was very strong in the last 2,500 years, continuously eliminating pathogenic mutations back until the end of the Younger Dryas (∼11,000 years ago), when a large population expansion likely relaxed selection pressure. This was preceded by a phase of stable selection until another relaxation occurred in the out-of-Africa migration. Demography and selection are closely related: expansions led to relaxation of selection and higher pathogenicity mutations significantly decreased the growth of descendants. The only detectible positive selection was the recurrence of highly pathogenic non-synonymous mutations (m.3394T>C-m.3397A>G-m.3398T>C) at interior branches of the tree, preventing the formation of a dinucleotide STR (TATATA) in the MT-ND1 gene. At the most recent timescale in 124 mother-children transmissions, purifying selection was detectable through the loss of mtDNA variants with high predicted pathogenicity. A few haplogroup-defining sites were also heteroplasmic, agreeing with a significant propensity in 349 positions in the phylogenetic tree to revert back to the ancestral variant. This non-random mutation property explains the observation of heteroplasmic mutations at some haplogroup-defining sites in sequencing datasets, which may not indicate poor quality as has been claimed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Human Mutation
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup L2 originated in Western Africa but is nowadays spread across the entire continent. L2 movements were previously postulated to be related to the Bantu expansion, but L2 expansions eastwards probably occurred much earlier. By reconstructing the phylogeny of L2 (44 new complete sequences) we provide insights on the complex net of within-African migrations in the last 60 thousand years (ka). Results show that lineages in Southern Africa cluster with Western/Central African lineages at a recent time scale, whereas, eastern lineages seem to be substantially more ancient. Three moments of expansion from a Central African source are associated to L2: (1) one migration at 70-50 ka into Eastern or Southern Africa, (2) postglacial movements (15-10 ka) into Eastern Africa; and (3) the southward Bantu Expansion in the last 5 ka. The complementary population and L0a phylogeography analyses indicate no strong evidence of mtDNA gene flow between eastern and southern populations during the later movement, suggesting low admixture between Eastern African populations and the Bantu migrants. This implies that, at least in the early stages, the Bantu expansion was mainly a demic diffusion with little incorporation of local populations.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Scientific Reports
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    ABSTRACT: At the crossroads between Africa and Eurasia, Arabia is necessarily a melting pot, its peoples enriched by successive gene flow over the generations. Estimating the timing and impact of these multiple migrations are important steps in reconstructing the key demographic events in the human history. However, current methods based on genome-wide information identify admixture events inefficiently, tending to estimate only the more recent ages, as here in the case of admixture events across the Red Sea (∼8-37 generations for African input into Arabia, and 30-90 generations for "back-to-Africa" migrations). An mtDNA-based founder analysis, corroborated by detailed analysis of the whole-mtDNA genome, affords an alternative means by which to identify, date and quantify multiple migration events at greater time depths, across the full range of modern human history, albeit for the maternal line of descent only. In Arabia, this approach enables us to infer several major pulses of dispersal between the Near East and Arabia, most likely via the Gulf corridor. Although some relict lineages survive in Arabia from the time of the out-of-Africa dispersal, 60 ka, the major episodes in the peopling of the Peninsula took place from north to south in the Late Glacial and, to a lesser extent, the immediate post-glacial/Neolithic. Exchanges across the Red Sea were mainly due to the Arab slave trade and maritime dominance (from ∼2.5 ka to very recent times), but had already begun by the early Holocene, fuelled by the establishment of maritime networks since ∼8 ka. The main "back-to-Africa" migrations, again undetected by genome-wide dating analyses, occurred in the Late Glacial period for introductions into eastern Africa, whilst the Neolithic was more significant for migrations towards North Africa.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    Full-text · Dataset · Jan 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial proteins are coded by nuclear (nDNA) and mitochondrial (mtDNA) genes, implying a complex cross-talk between the two genomes. Here we investigated the diversity displayed in 104 nuclear-coded mitochondrial proteins from 1,092 individuals from the 1000 Genomes dataset, in order to evaluate if these genes are under the effects of purifying selection and how that selection compares with their mitochondrial encoded counterparts. Only the very rare variants (frequency < 0.1%) in these nDNA genes are indistinguishable from a random set from all possible variants in terms of predicted pathogenicity score, but more frequent variants display distinct signs of purifying selection. Comparisons of selection strength indicate stronger selection in the mtDNA genes compared to this set of nDNA genes, accounted for by the high hydrophobicity of the proteins coded by the mtDNA. Most of the predicted pathogenic variants in the nDNA genes were restricted to a single continental population. The proportion of individuals having at least one potential pathogenic mutation in this gene set was significantly lower in Europeans than in Africans and Asians. This difference may reflect demographic asymmetries, since African and Asian populations experienced main expansions in middle Holocene, while in Europeans the main expansions occurred earlier in the post-glacial period.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Scientific Reports
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence of more refined chronologies for climate change and archaeology in prehistoric Africa, and for the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), now make it feasible to test more sophisticated models of early modern human dispersals suggested by mtDNA distributions. Here we have generated 42 novel whole-mtDNA genomes belonging to haplogroup L0, the most divergent clade in the maternal line of descent, and analysed them alongside the growing database of African lineages belonging to L0's sister clade, L1'6. We propose that the last common ancestor of modern human mtDNAs (carried by "mitochondrial Eve") possibly arose in central Africa ~180 ka, at a time of low population size. By ~130 ka two distinct groups of anatomically modern humans co-existed in Africa: broadly, the ancestors of many modern-day Khoe and San populations in the south and a second central/eastern African group that includes the ancestors of most extant worldwide populations. Early modern human dispersals correlate with climate changes, particularly the tropical African "megadroughts" of MIS 5 (marine isotope stage 5, 135-75 ka) which paradoxically may have facilitated expansions in central and eastern Africa, ultimately triggering the dispersal out of Africa of people carrying haplogroup L3 ~60 ka. Two south to east migrations are discernible within haplogroup LO. One, between 120 and 75 ka, represents the first unambiguous long-range modern human dispersal detected by mtDNA and might have allowed the dispersal of several markers of modernity. A second one, within the last 20 ka signalled by L0d, may have been responsible for the spread of southern click-consonant languages to eastern Africa, contrary to the view that these eastern examples constitute relicts of an ancient, much wider distribution.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: The presence of sub-Saharan L-type mtDNA sequences in North Africa has traditionally been explained by the recent slave trade. However, gene flow between sub-Saharan and northern African populations would also have been made possible earlier through the greening of the Sahara resulting from Early Holocene climatic improvement. In this article, we examine human dispersals across the Sahara through the analysis of the sub-Saharan mtDNA haplogroup L3e5, which is not only commonly found in the Lake Chad Basin (∼17%), but which also attains nonnegligible frequencies (∼10%) in some Northwestern African populations. Age estimates point to its origin ∼10 ka, probably directly in the Lake Chad Basin, where the clade occurs across linguistic boundaries. The virtual absence of this specific haplogroup in Daza from Northern Chad and all West African populations suggests that its migration took place elsewhere, perhaps through Northern Niger. Interestingly, independent confirmation of Early Holocene contacts between North Africa and the Lake Chad Basin have been provided by craniofacial data from Central Niger, supporting our suggestion that the Early Holocene offered a suitable climatic window for genetic exchanges between North and sub-Saharan Africa. In view of its younger founder age in North Africa, the discontinuous distribution of L3e5 was probably caused by the Middle Holocene re-expansion of the Sahara desert, disrupting the clade's original continuous spread.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Annals of Human Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: The origins of Ashkenazi Jews remain highly controversial. Like Judaism, mitochondrial DNA is passed along the maternal line. Its variation in the Ashkenazim is highly distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders. However, due to their rarity in the general population, these founders have been difficult to trace to a source. Here we show that all four major founders, ~40% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation, have ancestry in prehistoric Europe, rather than the Near East or Caucasus. Furthermore, most of the remaining minor founders share a similar deep European ancestry. Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed, nor recruited in the Caucasus, as sometimes suggested, but assimilated within Europe. These results point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities, and provide the foundation for a detailed reconstruction of Ashkenazi genealogical history.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Nature Communications
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    ABSTRACT: The genetics of paragangliomas (PGL) and phaeochromocytomas (PCC) has experienced great progress in the last years, mainly after the identification of germline SDHx (SDHA, SDHB, SDHC and SDHD) mutations. Although the spectrum of SDHx mutations is well characterized in several series of PGL/PCC patients, the genetic background of Portuguese PGL/PCC patients is still largely unknown. We have performed a germline genetic screening of SDHB, SDHC, SDHD and SDHAF2 in a series of 37 patients (34 sporadic and three familial patients) from northern Portugal who developed PGL or PCC. The majority of patients (20 of 37; 54.1%) harboured germline SDHx mutations, including all familial cases (3/3) and 17 of the 34 sporadic cases (50.0%). The presence of germline SDHx mutations was significantly associated with younger age at diagnosis and extra-adrenal tumour location. Patients without germline SDHx mutations presented significantly higher levels of epinephrine and metanephrine than patients with germline SDHx mutations. In the group of 20 patients with germline mutations, 11 (55.0%) harboured a 15678bp deletion in the SDHB gene, encompassing the promoter and exon 1. The SDHB 15678bp deletion was associated with the same haplotype in all 11 patients, in contrast with the normal population where six different haplotypes were found. Our results highlight the importance of genetic screening in PGL and PCC patients and identified a SDHB large deletion with a founder effect in northern Portugal.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Endocrine Related Cancer
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    ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the circular DNA molecule inside the mitochondria of all eukaryotic cells, has been shown to be under the effect of purifying selection in several species. Traditional testing of purifying selection has been based simply on ratios of nonsynonymous to synonymous mutations, without considering the relative age of each mutation, which can be determined by phylogenetic analysis of this non-recombining molecule. The incorporation of a mutation time-ordering from phylogeny and of predicted pathogenicity scores for nonsynonymous mutations allow a quantitative evaluation of the effects of purifying selection in human mtDNA. Here, by using this additional information, we show that purifying selection undoubtedly acts upon the mtDNA of other mammalian species/genera, namely Bos sp., Canis lupus, Mus musculus, Orcinus orca, Pan sp. and Sus scrofa. The effects of purifying selection were comparable in all species, leading to a significant major proportion of nonsynonymous variants with higher pathogenicity scores in the younger branches of the tree. We also derive recalibrated mutation rates for age estimates of ancestors of these various species and proposed a correction curve in order to take into account the effects of selection. Understanding this selection is fundamental to evolutionary studies and to the identification of deleterious mutations.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    Full-text · Dataset · Dec 2012
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    Nuno M Silva · Luísa Pereira · Estella S Poloni · Mathias Currat
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    ABSTRACT: The forensic genetics field is generating extensive population data on polymorphism of short tandem repeats (STR) markers in globally distributed samples. In this study we explored and quantified the informative power of these datasets to address issues related to human evolution and diversity, by using two online resources: an allele frequency dataset representing 141 populations summing up to almost 26 thousand individuals; a genotype dataset consisting of 42 populations and more than 11 thousand individuals. We show that the genetic relationships between populations based on forensic STRs are best explained by geography, as observed when analysing other worldwide datasets generated specifically to study human diversity. However, the global level of genetic differentiation between populations (as measured by a fixation index) is about half the value estimated with those other datasets, which contain a much higher number of markers but much less individuals. We suggest that the main factor explaining this difference is an ascertainment bias in forensics data resulting from the choice of markers for individual identification. We show that this choice results in average low variance of heterozygosity across world regions, and hence in low differentiation among populations. Thus, the forensic genetic markers currently produced for the purpose of individual assignment and identification allow the detection of the patterns of neutral genetic structure that characterize the human population but they do underestimate the levels of this genetic structure compared to the datasets of STRs (or other kinds of markers) generated specifically to study the diversity of human populations.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: It is now known that several population movements have taken place at different times throughout southern Arabian prehistory. One of the principal questions under debate is if the Early Holocene peopling of southern Arabia was mainly due to input from the Levant during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, to the expansion of an autochthonous population, or some combination of these demographic processes. Since previous genetic studies have not been able to include all parts of southern Arabia, we have helped fill this lacuna by collecting new population datasets from Oman (Dhofar) and Yemen (Al-Mahra and Bab el-Mandab). We identified several new haplotypes belonging to haplogroup R2 and generated its whole genome mtDNA tree with age estimates undertaken by different methods. R2, together with other considerably frequent southern Arabian mtDNA haplogroups (R0a, HV1, summing up more than 20% of the South Arabian gene pool) were used to infer the past effective population size through Bayesian skyline plots. These data indicate that the southern Arabian population underwent a large expansion already some 12 ka. A founder analysis of these haplogroups shows that this expansion is largely attributed to demographic input from the Near East. These results support thus the spread of a population coming from the north, but at a significantly earlier date than presently considered by archaeologists. Our data suggest that some of the mtDNA lineages found in southern Arabia have persisted in the region since the end of the Last Ice Age. Am J Phys Anthropol 149:291-298, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · American Journal of Physical Anthropology
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    Full-text · Dataset · Sep 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Human populations, along with those of many other species, are thought to have contracted into a number of refuge areas at the height of the last Ice Age. European populations are believed to be, to a large extent, the descendants of the inhabitants of these refugia, and some extant mtDNA lineages can be traced to refugia in Franco-Cantabria (haplogroups H1, H3, V, and U5b1), the Italian Peninsula (U5b3), and the East European Plain (U4 and U5a). Parts of the Near East, such as the Levant, were also continuously inhabited throughout the Last Glacial Maximum, but unlike western and eastern Europe, no archaeological or genetic evidence for Late Glacial expansions into Europe from the Near East has hitherto been discovered. Here we report, on the basis of an enlarged whole-genome mitochondrial database, that a substantial, perhaps predominant, signal from mitochondrial haplogroups J and T, previously thought to have spread primarily from the Near East into Europe with the Neolithic population, may in fact reflect dispersals during the Late Glacial period, ∼19-12 thousand years (ka) ago.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012 · The American Journal of Human Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: Archaeological and genetic evidence concerning the time and mode of wild horse (Equus ferus) domestication is still debated. High levels of genetic diversity in horse mtDNA have been detected when analyzing the control region; recurrent mutations, however, tend to blur the structure of the phylogenetic tree. Here, we brought the horse mtDNA phylogeny to the highest level of molecular resolution by analyzing 83 mitochondrial genomes from modern horses across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Our data reveal 18 major haplogroups (A-R) with radiation times that are mostly confined to the Neolithic and later periods and place the root of the phylogeny corresponding to the Ancestral Mare Mitogenome at ~130-160 thousand years ago. All haplogroups were detected in modern horses from Asia, but F was only found in E. przewalskii--the only remaining wild horse. Therefore, a wide range of matrilineal lineages from the extinct E. ferus underwent domestication in the Eurasian steppes during the Eneolithic period and were transmitted to modern E. caballus breeds. Importantly, now that the major horse haplogroups have been defined, each with diagnostic mutational motifs (in both the coding and control regions), these haplotypes could be easily used to (i) classify well-preserved ancient remains, (ii) (re)assess the haplogroup variation of modern breeds, including Thoroughbreds, and (iii) evaluate the possible role of mtDNA backgrounds in racehorse performance.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: A major unanswered question regarding the dispersal of modern humans around the world concerns the geographical site of the first human steps outside of Africa. The "southern coastal route" model predicts that the early stages of the dispersal took place when people crossed the Red Sea to southern Arabia, but genetic evidence has hitherto been tenuous. We have addressed this question by analyzing the three minor west-Eurasian haplogroups, N1, N2, and X. These lineages branch directly from the first non-African founder node, the root of haplogroup N, and coalesce to the time of the first successful movement of modern humans out of Africa, ∼60 thousand years (ka) ago. We sequenced complete mtDNA genomes from 85 Southwest Asian samples carrying these haplogroups and compared them with a database of 300 European examples. The results show that these minor haplogroups have a relict distribution that suggests an ancient ancestry within the Arabian Peninsula, and they most likely spread from the Gulf Oasis region toward the Near East and Europe during the pluvial period 55-24 ka ago. This pattern suggests that Arabia was indeed the first staging post in the spread of modern humans around the world.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · The American Journal of Human Genetics

Publication Stats

3k Citations
384.60 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1996-2016
    • University of Porto
      • • Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology (IPATIMUP)
      • • Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto
      • • Faculty of Medicine
      Oporto, Porto, Portugal
  • 2006
    • University of Leeds
      Leeds, England, United Kingdom