Derived immune and ancestral pigmentation alleles in a 7,000-year-old Mesolithic European

Inigo Olalde, Morten E. Allentoft, Federico Sanchez-Quinto, Gabriel Santpere, Charleston W. K. Chiang, Michael DeGiorgio, Javier Prado-Martinez, Juan Antonio Rodriguez, Simon Rasmussen, Javier Quilez, Oscar Ramirez, Urko M. Marigorta, Marcos Fernandez-Callejo, Maria Encina Prada, Julio Manuel Vidal Encinas, Rasmus Nielsen, Mihai G. Netea, John Novembre, Richard A. Sturm, Pardis SabetiTomas Marques-Bonet, Arcadi Navarro, Eske Willerslev, Carles Lalueza-Fox

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Ancient genomic sequences have started to reveal the origin and the demographic impact of farmers from the Neolithic period spreading into Europe(1-3). The adoption of farming, stock breeding and sedentary societies during the Neolithic may have resulted in adaptive changes in genes associated with immunity and diet(4). However, the limited data available from earlier hunter-gatherers preclude an understanding of the selective processes associated with this crucial transition to agriculture in recent human evolution. Here we sequence an approximately 7,000-year-old Mesolithic skeleton discovered at the La Brana-Arintero site in Leon, Spain, to retrieve a complete pre-agricultural European human genome. Analysis of this genome in the context of other ancient samples suggests the existence of a common ancient genomic signature across western and central Eurasia from the Upper Paleolithic to the Mesolithic. The La Brana individual carries ancestral alleles in several skin pigmentation genes, suggesting that the light skin of modern Europeans was not yet ubiquitous in Mesolithic times. Moreover, we provide evidence that a significant number of derived, putatively adaptive variants associated with pathogen resistance in modern Europeans were already present in this hunter-gatherer.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number7491
    Pages (from-to)225-228
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Evolutionary genetics


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