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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Neanderthal gene flow found in humans

Finally an aperitif from the so much expected Neanderthal genome. We will still have to wait for the other specimens from several parts of Europe but the three individuals of Vindija (Croatia) have already been sequenced and provide some interesting information.

Richard E. Green et al., A Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome. Science Magazine 2010. Open access.


Neandertals, the closest evolutionary relatives of present-day humans, lived in large parts of Europe and western Asia before disappearing 30,000 years ago. We present a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome composed of more than 4 billion nucleotides from three individuals. Comparisons of the Neandertal genome to the genomes of five present-day humans from different parts of the world identify a number of genomic regions that may have been affected by positive selection in ancestral modern humans, including genes involved in metabolism and in cognitive and skeletal development. We show that Neandertals shared more genetic variants with present-day humans in Eurasia than with present-day humans in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that gene flow from Neandertals into the ancestors of non-Africans occurred before the divergence of Eurasian groups from each other.

Related materials (all open access) can be found at Special Feature: The Neanderthal Genome, also at Science Magazine.

The authors estimate that this gene flow is quantified in 1-4% of the Eurasian genome and this is the same for West Eurasians, East Asians or Papuans but not for the Yoruba nor the San. This means that, most likely, there was gene flow between the two species soon after the Out of Africa migration.

More later maybe. This is just a quick heads up.

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