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Ancient DNA from an Early Neolithic Iberian population supports a pioneer colonization by first farmers

Authors

  • C. GAMBA,

    1. Laboratorio de Genética Forense y Genética de Poblaciones, Facultad de Medicina, Pabellón 7, 4ª Planta, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Avenida Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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  • E. FERNÁNDEZ,

    1. Laboratorio de Genética Forense y Genética de Poblaciones, Facultad de Medicina, Pabellón 7, 4ª Planta, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Avenida Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
    2. Instituto de Arqueologia e Paleociências, Universidade do Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
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  • M. TIRADO,

    1. Laboratorio de Genética Forense y Genética de Poblaciones, Facultad de Medicina, Pabellón 7, 4ª Planta, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Avenida Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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  • M. F. DEGUILLOUX,

    1. UMR 5199 PACEA, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Des Populations Passées et Présentes, Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence cedex, France
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  • M. H. PEMONGE,

    1. UMR 5199 PACEA, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Des Populations Passées et Présentes, Université Bordeaux 1, 33405 Talence cedex, France
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  • P. UTRILLA,

    1. Departamento de Ciencias de la Antigüedad, Universidad de Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
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  • M. EDO,

    1. Departament de Prehistòria, Història Antiga i Arqueologia, Universitat de Barcelona, 08032 Barcelona, Spain
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  • M. MOLIST,

    1. Departamento de Prehistoria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
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  • R. RASTEIRO,

    1. Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, P-2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal
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  • L. CHIKHI,

    1. Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, P-2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal
    2. CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, ENFA; UMR 5174 EDB (Laboratoire Evolution & Diversité Biologique); 118 route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse, France
    3. Université de Toulouse; UMR 5174 EDB, F-31062 Toulouse, France
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  • E. ARROYO-PARDO

    1. Laboratorio de Genética Forense y Genética de Poblaciones, Facultad de Medicina, Pabellón 7, 4ª Planta, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Avenida Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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Cristina Gamba, Fax: +34 913941576; E-mail: cristinagamba@med.ucm.es

Abstract

The Neolithic transition has been widely debated particularly regarding the extent to which this revolution implied a demographic expansion from the Near East. We attempted to shed some light on this process in northeastern Iberia by combining ancient DNA (aDNA) data from Early Neolithic settlers and published DNA data from Middle Neolithic and modern samples from the same region. We successfully extracted and amplified mitochondrial DNA from 13 human specimens, found at three archaeological sites dated back to the Cardial culture in the Early Neolithic (Can Sadurní and Chaves) and to the Late Early Neolithic (Sant Pau del Camp). We found that haplogroups with a low frequency in modern populations—N* and X1—are found at higher frequencies in our Early Neolithic population (∼31%). Genetic differentiation between Early and Middle Neolithic populations was significant (FST∼0.13, P < 10−5), suggesting that genetic drift played an important role at this time. To improve our understanding of the Neolithic demographic processes, we used a Bayesian coalescence-based simulation approach to identify the most likely of three demographic scenarios that might explain the genetic data. The three scenarios were chosen to reflect archaeological knowledge and previous genetic studies using similar inferential approaches. We found that models that ignore population structure, as previously used in aDNA studies, are unlikely to explain the data. Our results are compatible with a pioneer colonization of northeastern Iberia at the Early Neolithic characterized by the arrival of small genetically distinctive groups, showing cultural and genetic connections with the Near East.

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