Ancient mitochondrial diversity reveals population homogeneity in Neolithic Greece and identifies population dynamics along the Danubian expansion axis.

  • publication
  • 06-08-2022

Silva NM, Kreutzer S, Souleles A, Triantaphyllou S, Kotsakis K, Urem-Kotsou D, Halstead P, Efstratiou N, Kotsos S, Karamitrou-Mentessidi G, Adaktylou F, Chondroyianni-Metoki A, Pappa M, Ziota C, Sampson A, Papathanasiou A, Vitelli K, Cullen T, Kyparissi-Apostolika N, Lanz AZ, Peters J, Rio J, Wegmann D, Burger J, Currat M, Papageorgopoulou C. Sci Rep 2022 Aug;12(1):13474. 10.1038/s41598-022-16745-8. 10.1038/s41598-022-16745-8. PMC9356035.

The aim of the study is to investigate mitochondrial diversity in Neolithic Greece and its relation to hunter-gatherers and farmers who populated the Danubian Neolithic expansion axis. We sequenced 42 mitochondrial palaeogenomes from Greece and analysed them together with European set of 328 mtDNA sequences dating from the Early to the Final Neolithic and 319 modern sequences. To test for population continuity through time in Greece, we use an original structured population continuity test that simulates DNA from different periods by explicitly considering the spatial and temporal dynamics of populations. We explore specific scenarios of the mode and tempo of the European Neolithic expansion along the Danubian axis applying spatially explicit simulations coupled with Approximate Bayesian Computation. We observe a striking genetic homogeneity for the maternal line throughout the Neolithic in Greece whereas population continuity is rejected between the Neolithic and present-day Greeks. Along the Danubian expansion axis, our best-fitting scenario supports a substantial decrease in mobility and an increasing local hunter-gatherer contribution to the gene-pool of farmers following the initial rapid Neolithic expansion. Οur original simulation approach models key demographic parameters rather than inferring them from fragmentary data leading to a better understanding of this important process in European prehistory.

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