Population genomics of Mesolithic Scandinavia: Investigating early postglacial migration routes and high-latitude adaptation

Torsten Günther, Helena Malmström, Emma M. Svensson, Ayça Omrak, Federico Sánchez-Quinto, Gülşah M. Kılınç, Maja Krzewińska, Gunilla Eriksson, Magdalena Fraser, Hanna Edlund, Arielle R. Munters, Alexandra Coutinho, Luciana G. Simões, Mário Vicente, Anders Sjölander, Berit Jansen Sellevold, Roger Jørgensen, Peter Claes, Mark D. Shriver, Cristina ValdioseraMihai G. Netea, Jan Apel, Kerstin Lidén, Birgitte Skar, Jan Storå, Anders Götherström, Mattias Jakobsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Scandinavia was one of the last geographic areas in Europe to become habitable for humans after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). However, the routes and genetic composition of these postglacial migrants remain unclear. We sequenced the genomes, up to 57× coverage, of seven hunter-gatherers excavated across Scandinavia and dated from 9,500–6,000 years before present (BP). Surprisingly, among the Scandinavian Mesolithic individuals, the genetic data display an east–west genetic gradient that opposes the pattern seen in other parts of Mesolithic Europe. Our results suggest two different early postglacial migrations into Scandinavia: initially from the south, and later, from the northeast. The latter followed the ice-free Norwegian north Atlantic coast, along which novel and advanced pressure-blade stone-tool techniques may have spread. These two groups met and mixed in Scandinavia, creating a genetically diverse population, which shows patterns of genetic adaptation to high latitude environments. These potential adaptations include high frequencies of low pigmentation variants and a gene region associated with physical performance, which shows strong continuity into modern-day northern Europeans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2003703
JournalPLoS biology
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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