Computational and Molecular Population Genetics Lab, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Cavalli-Sforza and Edwards (Analysis of human evolution. 1963. In: Geerts SJ, editor. Genetics today: Proceedings of the 11th International Congress of Genetics, The Hague, The Netherlands. New York: Pergamon. p. 923-993.) initiated the representation of genetic relationships among human populations with principal component (PC) analysis (PCA). Their study revealed the presence of a southeast-northwest (SE-NW) gradient of genetic variation in current European populations, which was interpreted as the result of the demic diffusion of early neolithic farmers during their expansion from the near east. However, this interpretation has been questioned, as PCA gradients can occur even when there is no expansion and because the first PC axis is often orthogonal to the expansion axis. Here, we revisit PCA patterns obtained under realistic scenarios of the settlement of Europe, focusing on the effects of various levels of admixture between paleolithic and neolithic populations, and of range contractions during the last glacial maximum (LGM). Using extensive simulations, we find that the first PC (PC1) gradients are orthogonal to the expansion axis, but only when the expansion is recent (neolithic). More ancient (paleolithic) expansions alter the orientation of the PC1 gradient due to a spatial homogenization of genetic diversity over time, and to the exact location of LGM refugia from which re-expansions proceeded. Overall we find that PC1 gradients consistently follow an SE-NW orientation if there is a large paleolithic contribution to the current European gene pool, and if the main refuge area during the last ice age was in the Iberian Peninsula. Our study suggests that an SE-NW PC1 gradient is compatible with little genetic impact of neolithic populations on the current European gene pool, and that range contractions have affected observed genetic patterns.
Laboratory of Anthropology, Genetics and Peopling history (AGP lab), University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
We present here the results of the Analysis of HLA Population Data (AHPD) project of the 16th International HLA and Immunogenetics Workshop (16IHIW) held in Liverpool in May-June 2012. Thanks to the collaboration of 25 laboratories from 18 different countries, HLA genotypic data for 59 new population samples (either well-defined populations or donor registry samples) were gathered and 55 were analysed statistically following HLA-NET recommendations. The new data included, among others, large sets of well-defined populations from north-east Europe and West Asia, as well as many donor registry data from European countries. The Gene[rate] computer tools were combined to create a Gene[rate] computer pipeline to automatically (i) estimate allele frequencies by an expectation-maximization algorithm accommodating ambiguities, (ii) estimate heterozygosity, (iii) test for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE), (iv) test for selective neutrality, (v) generate frequency graphs and summary statistics for each sample at each locus and (vi) plot multidimensional scaling (MDS) analyses comparing the new samples with previous IHIW data. Intrapopulation analyses show that HWE is rarely rejected, while neutrality tests often indicate a significant excess of heterozygotes compared with neutral expectations. The comparison of the 16IHIW AHPD data with data collected during previous workshops (12th-15th) shows that geography is an excellent predictor of HLA genetic differentiations for HLA-A, -B and -DRB1 loci but not for HLA-DQ, whose patterns are probably more influenced by natural selection. In Europe, HLA genetic variation clearly follows a north to south-east axis despite a low level of differentiation between European, North African and West Asian populations. Pacific populations are genetically close to Austronesian-speaking South-East Asian and Taiwanese populations, in agreement with current theories on the peopling of Oceania. Thanks to this project, HLA genetic variation is more clearly defined worldwide and better interpreted in relation to human peopling history and HLA molecular evolution.
IPATIMUP (Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto), Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.
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.
Department of Archaeology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland. email@example.com
The evolutionary history of modern humans is characterized by numerous migrations driven by environmental change, population pressures, and cultural innovations. In Europe, the events most widely considered to have had a major impact on patterns of genetic diversity are the initial colonization of the continent by anatomically modern humans (AMH), the last glacial maximum, and the Neolithic transition. For some decades it was assumed that the geographical structuring of genetic diversity within Europe was mainly the result of gene flow during and soon after the Neolithic transition, but recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, computer simulation modeling, and ancient DNA (aDNA) analyses are challenging this simplistic view. Here we review the current knowledge on the evolutionary history of humans in Europe based on archaeological and genetic data.
Faculté des sciences / Section de biologie / Département de génétique et évolution
Population movements over space and time played a crucial role in generating the genetic patterns that are observed in the present day. Numerous factors, such as climate changes or cultural innovations, have the potential to induce large-scale movements, such as population expansions (i.e. increases both in density and range) or contractions to refugee areas. It is thus very important to take the spatial dynamic of populations into account when trying to reconstruct their history from genetic data. Computer simulation constitutes a very powerful tool for the study of the combined impacts of biological and demographic factors on the genetic structure of populations. The rapid increase of computer power opens many new possibilities for research in that specific area. A series of recent studies have focused on the consequences of population expansions on their genetic diversity. These studies extensively described one potentially important genetic process which may occur during a range expansion: the "mutation surfing" phenomenon. In this paper, we describe in detail this process and its potential implications for the establishment of the current genetic diversity in Europe. We also discuss the limitations and perspectives of such computer simulation studies in the field, and possible future improvements to them.
Plant Systematics and Biodiversity Laboratory, Molecular Phylogeny and Genetics Unit, Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques, 1 Chemin de l'Imperatrice, CP 60, CH-1292 Chambesy, Geneve, Switzerland.
This study puts together genetic data and an approximate bayesian computation (ABC) approach to infer the time at which the tree Geoffroea spinosa colonized the Galapagos Islands. The genetic diversity and differentiation between Peru and Galapagos population samples, estimated using three chloroplast spacers and six microsatellite loci, reveal significant differences between two mainland regions separated by the Andes mountains (Inter Andean vs. Pacific Coast) as well as a significant genetic differentiation of island populations. Microsatellites identify two distinct geographical clusters, the Galapagos and the mainland, and chloroplast markers show a private haplotype in the Galapagos. The nuclear distinctiveness of the Inter Andean populations suggests current restricted pollen flow, but chloroplast points to cross-Andean dispersals via seeds, indicating that the Andes might not be an effective biogeographical barrier. The ABC analyses clearly point to the colonization of the Galapagos within the last 160,000 years and possibly as recently as 4750 years ago (475 generations). Founder events associated with colonization of the two islands where the species occurs are detected, with Espanola having been colonized after Floreana. We discuss two nonmutually exclusive possibilities for the colonization of the Galapagos, recent natural dispersal vs. human introduction.
Laboratory of Anthropology, Genetics and Peopling History (AGP), Anthropology Unit of the Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva, , 12 rue Gustave-Revilliod, 1211 Geneva 4, Swi...
Human leucocyte antigen (HLA) loci have a complex evolution where both stochastic (e.g. genetic drift) and deterministic (natural selection) forces are involved. Owing to their extraordinary level of polymorphism, HLA genes are useful markers for reconstructing human settlement history. However, HLA variation often deviates significantly from neutral expectations towards an excess of genetic diversity. Because HLA molecules play a crucial role in immunity, this observation is generally explained by pathogen-driven-balancing selection (PDBS). In this study, we investigate the PDBS model by analysing HLA allelic diversity on a large database of 535 populations in relation to pathogen richness. Our results confirm that geographical distances are excellent predictors of HLA genetic differentiation worldwide. We also find a significant positive correlation between genetic diversity and pathogen richness at two HLA class I loci (HLA-A and -B), as predicted by PDBS, and a significant negative correlation at one HLA class II locus (HLA-DQB1). Although these effects are weak, as shown by a loss of significance when populations submitted to rapid genetic drift are removed from the analysis, the inverse relationship between genetic diversity and pathogen richness at different loci indicates that HLA genes have adopted distinct evolutionary strategies to provide immune protection in pathogen-rich environments.
Computational and Molecular Population Genetics Lab, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Berne, Switzerland. firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to past and current climatic changes, range contractions and range shifts are essential stages in the history of a species. However, unlike range expansions, the molecular consequences of these processes have been little investigated. In order to fill this gap, we simulated patterns of molecular diversity within and between populations for various types of range contractions and range shifts. We show that range contractions tend to decrease genetic diversity as compared with population with stable ranges but quite counterintuitively fast range contractions preserve higher levels of diversity and induce lower levels of genetic differentiation among refuge areas than slow contractions. Contrastingly, fast range shifts lead to lower levels of diversity than slow range shifts. At odds with our expectations, we find that species actively migrating toward refuge areas can only preserve higher levels of diversity in refugia if the contraction is rapid. Under slow range contraction or slow range shift, active migration toward refugia lead to a larger loss of diversity as compared with scenarios with isotropic migration and may thus not be a good evolutionary strategy. These results suggest that the levels of diversity preserved after a climate change both within and between refuge areas will not only depend on the dispersal abilities of a species but also on the speed of the change. It also implies that a given episode of climatic change will impact differently species with different generation times.
Anthropology, Genetics, and Peopling History Laboratory, Anthropology Unit, Department of Genetics and Evolution, University of Geneva, 1227 Geneva, Switzerland. email@example.com
Recent studies have revealed that 2-3% of the genome of non-Africans might come from Neanderthals, suggesting a more complex scenario of modern human evolution than previously anticipated. In this paper, we use a model of admixture during a spatial expansion to study the hybridization of Neanderthals with modern humans during their spread out of Africa. We find that observed low levels of Neanderthal ancestry in Eurasians are compatible with a very low rate of interbreeding (<2%), potentially attributable to a very strong avoidance of interspecific matings, a low fitness of hybrids, or both. These results suggesting the presence of very effective barriers to gene flow between the two species are robust to uncertainties about the exact demography of the Paleolithic populations, and they are also found to be compatible with the observed lack of mtDNA introgression. Our model additionally suggests that similarly low levels of introgression in Europe and Asia may result from distinct admixture events having occurred beyond the Middle East, after the split of Europeans and Asians. This hypothesis could be tested because it predicts that different components of Neanderthal ancestry should be present in Europeans and in Asians.
Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, Wolfson House, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
Niche construction is the process by which organisms construct important components of their local environment in ways that introduce novel selection pressures. Lactase persistence is one of the clearest examples of niche construction in humans. Lactase is the enzyme responsible for the digestion of the milk sugar lactose and its production decreases after the weaning phase in most mammals, including most humans. Some humans, however, continue to produce lactase throughout adulthood, a trait known as lactase persistence. In European populations, a single mutation (-13910*T) explains the distribution of the phenotype, whereas several mutations are associated with it in Africa and the Middle East. Current estimates for the age of lactase persistence-associated alleles bracket those for the origins of animal domestication and the culturally transmitted practice of dairying. We report new data on the distribution of -13910*T and summarize genetic studies on the diversity of lactase persistence worldwide. We review relevant archaeological data and describe three simulation studies that have shed light on the evolution of this trait in Europe. These studies illustrate how genetic and archaeological information can be integrated to bring new insights to the origins and spread of lactase persistence. Finally, we discuss possible improvements to these models.