Final - The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe.


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Olalde I, et al. The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe. Nature. Published online: 21 February 2018. doi:10.1038/nature25738.

[Gleaned from the Supplementary Information, and data tables that are behind a pay wall]

Iberian Beaker-associated individuals without a genome-wide signal of steppe ancestry belonged mainly to haplogroups I2 and G2 both present in high frequencies in European Neolithic farmers and also in Iberian Copper Age populations. Two Iberian individuals without steppe ancestry belonged to haplogroup R1b, but likely not to R1b-L23 and therefore not to R1b-S116/P312. Similar R1b haplogroups (ancestral for L23) were present in low frequencies in Europe during the Neolithic period, as they have been previously observed in both central Europe and Iberia. Interestingly, 4 Beaker-associated males from Iberia belonged to R1b-M269, and the two with higher coverage could be further classified as R1b-S116/P312. These 4 individuals displayed a clear signal of steppe ancestry in the autosomes, highlighting the association between R1b-M269 and steppe-related genetic affinities. These individuals represent the earliest observation in Iberia of R1b-M269 and R1b- S116/P312, lineages that dominate the Y-chromosome composition in present-day Iberian populations.

Outside Iberia, Beaker Complex individuals present a striking uniformity in paternal lineages, with 87 out of 93 males (excluding relatives) belonging to haplogroup R1b. Where R1b downstream mutations could be determined (n=60), all but two males belonged to R1b-S116/P312. The six individuals outside Iberia without R1b Y-chromosomes were excavated in Hungary (n=4), Germany (n=1) and England (n=1). Interestingly, most of these individuals presented low amounts of steppe ancestry in the nuclear genome as compared to other individuals from the same regions.

There were 28 males who belonged to R1b-L21/M529, all of them dated to the Beaker and Bronze Age periods and excavated in Britain. This matches the high frequency of this clade in modern populations from the British Isles.


[The way I read the Supplementary Info (Table 4) was that they had resolution to L21 (ISOGG R1b1a1a2a1a2c, etc.) (15 remains), DF13 (11 remains), Z253 (1 set of remains), and even L1066 (1 set of remains).

Additionally, there were 3 sets of remains from Great Britain, and 1 set from Spain listed as P312xL21, which I could not figure out why they were so listed - I did not see any called SNPs downstream of P312 for these 4 remains.

As an aside, isotopic (strontium/oxygen) analysis of the Amesbury Archer (believed to date from about 2300 BC) shows that he originated in the northern Alpine region of continental Europe (southern Germany or Switzerland). We don't have his genome yet, but the Companion, who is believed to be his son or at the very least a close relative, and buried just 3 meters east of the Archer, tested L21+. The Archer and the Companion share an anomaly in the bones of their feet that make it almost certain they were close relatives. That means it is very likely the Archer himself was L21+.

It think that it is conceivable that while the L21 mutation occurred on the continent, but then after perhaps a combination of famine, plague and war ravaged Great Britain (and Ireland?), that the bulk of the then small-in-number, nascent L21 kindred migrated to the wide-open spaces of a practically deserted Great Britain (and Ireland?) producing a marked founder effect, and leaving little trace of themselves back in their erstwhile homeland. Subsequent occurrence of L21 representing migrations from Great Britain and Ireland]


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