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Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlant

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  • Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlant

    Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and
    establishment of the insular Atlantic genome
    open access
    Lara M. Cassidya,1, Rui Martinianoa,1, Eileen M. Murphyb
    , Matthew D. Teasdalea
    , James Malloryb
    , Barrie Hartwellb
    and Daniel G. Bradleya,2
    Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland; and b
    School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast,
    Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland
    Edited by Montgomery Slatkin, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved November 18, 2015 (received for review September 18, 2015)
    The Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions were profound cultural
    shifts catalyzed in parts of Europe by migrations, first of early
    farmers from the Near East and then Bronze Age herders from the
    Pontic Steppe. However, a decades-long, unresolved controversy
    is whether population change or cultural adoption occurred at the
    Atlantic edge, within the British Isles. We address this issue by
    using the first whole genome data from prehistoric Irish individuals.
    A Neolithic woman (3343–3020 cal BC) from a megalithic
    burial (10.3× coverage) possessed a genome of predominantly
    Near Eastern origin. She had some hunter–gatherer ancestry but
    belonged to a population of large effective size, suggesting a substantial
    influx of early farmers to the island. Three Bronze Age
    individuals from Rathlin Island (2026–1534 cal BC), including one
    high coverage (10.5×) genome, showed substantial Steppe genetic
    heritage indicating that the European population upheavals of the
    third millennium manifested all of the way from southern Siberia to
    the western ocean. This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying
    introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language.
    Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish,
    Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants
    that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland
    appear at this horizon. These include those coding for lactase persistence,
    blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis
    C282Y allele; to our knowledge, the first detection of a
    known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together
    suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish
    genome 4,000 y ago.