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A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for European Paternal Lineages

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hing Leung, Dr Ian Wilson



The relative contributions to modern European populations of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic farmers from the Near East have been intensely debated. Haplogroup R1b1b2 (R-M269) is the commonest European Y-chromosomal lineage, increasing in frequency from east to west, and carried by 110 million European men. Previous studies suggested a Paleolithic origin, but here we show that the geographical distribution of its microsatellite diversity is best explained by spread from a single source in the Near East via Anatolia during the Neolithic. Taken with evidence on the origins of other haplogroups, this indicates that most European Y chromosomes originate in the Neolithic expansion. This reinterpretation makes Europe a prime example of how technological and cultural change is linked with the expansion of a Y-chromosomal lineage, and the contrast of this pattern with that shown by maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA suggests a unique role for males in the transition.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Balaresque P, Bowden GR, Adams SM, Leung HY, King TE, Rosser ZH, Goodwin J, Moisan JP, Richard C, Millward A, Demaine AG, Barbujani G, Previdere C, Wilson IJ, Tyler-Smith C, Jobling MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS Biology

Year: 2010

Volume: 8

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/01/2010

Date deposited: 26/04/2010

ISSN (print): 1544-9173

ISSN (electronic): 1545-7885

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000285


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Funder referenceFunder name
057559Wellcome Trust