Natural selection contributed to immunological differences between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists

Genelle F. Harrison, Joaquin Sanz, Jonathan Boulais, Michael J. Mina, Jean Christophe Grenier, Yumei Leng, Anne Dumaine, Vania Yotova, Christina M. Bergey, Samuel L. Nsobya, Stephen J. Elledge, Erwin Schurr, Lluis Quintana-Murci, George H. Perry, Luis B. Barreiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The shift from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural mode of subsistence is believed to have been associated with profound changes in the burden and diversity of pathogens across human populations. Yet, the extent to which the advent of agriculture affected the evolution of the human immune system remains unknown. Here we present a comparative study of variation in the transcriptional responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to bacterial and viral stimuli between Batwa rainforest hunter-gatherers and Bakiga agriculturalists from Uganda. We observed increased divergence between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists in the early transcriptional response to viruses compared with that for bacterial stimuli. We demonstrate that a significant fraction of these transcriptional differences are under genetic control and we show that positive natural selection has helped to shape population differences in immune regulation. Across the set of genetic variants underlying inter-population immune-response differences, however, the signatures of positive selection were disproportionately observed in the rainforest hunter-gatherers. This result is counter to expectations on the basis of the popularized notion that shifts in pathogen exposure due to the advent of agriculture imposed radically heightened selective pressures in agriculturalist populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1253-1264
Number of pages12
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Volume3
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

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hunter-gatherer
natural selection
rainforest
rain forests
pathogen
agriculture
pathogens
immune system
Uganda
mononuclear leukocytes
immune response
subsistence
human population
comparative study
virus
blood
divergence
viruses
hunters

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Harrison, G. F., Sanz, J., Boulais, J., Mina, M. J., Grenier, J. C., Leng, Y., ... Barreiro, L. B. (2019). Natural selection contributed to immunological differences between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3(8), 1253-1264. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0947-6
Harrison, Genelle F. ; Sanz, Joaquin ; Boulais, Jonathan ; Mina, Michael J. ; Grenier, Jean Christophe ; Leng, Yumei ; Dumaine, Anne ; Yotova, Vania ; Bergey, Christina M. ; Nsobya, Samuel L. ; Elledge, Stephen J. ; Schurr, Erwin ; Quintana-Murci, Lluis ; Perry, George H. ; Barreiro, Luis B. / Natural selection contributed to immunological differences between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. In: Nature Ecology and Evolution. 2019 ; Vol. 3, No. 8. pp. 1253-1264.
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Harrison, GF, Sanz, J, Boulais, J, Mina, MJ, Grenier, JC, Leng, Y, Dumaine, A, Yotova, V, Bergey, CM, Nsobya, SL, Elledge, SJ, Schurr, E, Quintana-Murci, L, Perry, GH & Barreiro, LB 2019, 'Natural selection contributed to immunological differences between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists', Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 3, no. 8, pp. 1253-1264. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0947-6

Natural selection contributed to immunological differences between hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. / Harrison, Genelle F.; Sanz, Joaquin; Boulais, Jonathan; Mina, Michael J.; Grenier, Jean Christophe; Leng, Yumei; Dumaine, Anne; Yotova, Vania; Bergey, Christina M.; Nsobya, Samuel L.; Elledge, Stephen J.; Schurr, Erwin; Quintana-Murci, Lluis; Perry, George H.; Barreiro, Luis B.

In: Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 3, No. 8, 01.08.2019, p. 1253-1264.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Leng, Yumei

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AU - Yotova, Vania

AU - Bergey, Christina M.

AU - Nsobya, Samuel L.

AU - Elledge, Stephen J.

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