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Author Topic: New Study Finds Lactase Persistence in Neolithic Iberia  (Read 853 times)
rms2
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« on: January 11, 2012, 08:05:19 PM »

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Low prevalence of lactase persistence in Neolithic South-West Europe

Theo S Plantinga et al.

The ability of humans to digest the milk component lactose after weaning requires persistent production of the lactose-converting enzyme lactase. Genetic variation in the promoter of the lactase gene (LCT) is known to be associated with lactase production and is therefore a genetic determinant for either lactase deficiency or lactase persistence during adulthood. Large differences in this genetic trait exist between populations in Africa and the Middle-East on the one hand, and European populations on the other; this is thought to be due to evolutionary pressures exerted by consumption of dairy products in Neolithic populations in Europe. In this study, we have investigated lactase persistence of 26 out of 46 individuals from Late Neolithic through analysis of ancient South-West European DNA samples, obtained from two burials in the Basque Country originating from 5000 to 4500 YBP. This investigation revealed that these populations had an average frequency of lactase persistence of 27%, much lower than in the modern Basque population, which is compatible with the concept that Neolithic and post-Neolithic evolutionary pressures by cattle domestication and consumption of dairy products led to high lactase persistence in Southern European populations. Given the heterogeneity in the frequency of the lactase persistence allele in ancient Europe, we suggest that in Southern Europe the selective advantage of lactose assimilation in adulthood most likely took place from standing population variation, after cattle domestication, at a post-Neolithic time when fresh milk consumption was already fully adopted as a consequence of a cultural influence.

Low prevalence of lactase persistence in Neolithic South-West Europe

This is one of those pay-to-read articles, so I have not read the entire article. Here is what Dienekes says about it on his blog:

Quote from: Dienekes
Lactase persistence in Neolithic Iberia

This is an extremely important study as it establishes the occurrence of lactase persistence in Neolithic Europe. This invalidates the idea proposed by some about a very late (post-Neolithic) introduction of lactase persistence into Europe by a pastoral population from the east, since we now have good evidence about the presence of this trait in a Neolithic sample from Atlantic Europe.

The frequency is higher than in the early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik (where it was absent in the tested samples), and lower than in present-day Basques, although levels of 27% are quite comparable to some modern south European populations. We are unlikely to detect the earliest occurrence of this trait (when it was limited to the original mutant and his descendants, prior to having a substantial advantage for digesting milk), but the new findings represent a new non-zero data point in the time series, which will certainly fill up as more points in space and time are tested.

I am wondering about the y-haplogroup(s) of these Neolithic remains from the Basque country. Will we find out soon?
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2012, 08:19:58 AM »

The archaeological sites are located in the south of modern Basque Country, outside of the Basque peopled area. The sites belong to cultures derivative from Cardium pottery culture, so the sample IMO must be considered representative of the Cardium pottery Neoltihic culture.
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2012, 10:16:49 AM »

Quote

This is one of those pay-to-read articles, so I have not read the entire article. Here is what Dienekes says about it on his blog:

....

I am wondering about the y-haplogroup(s) of these Neolithic remains from the Basque country. Will we find out soon?

Rich,
You can read the full paper here:
http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ejhg2011254a.html

"The arrival or adoption of the Neolithic way of life in the Northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, here referred to as the Basque Country, is believed to have taken place around 7000 YBP. Several burials dating from this period have been identified and investigated archaeologically in the Basque Country, dating from 7000 to 4000 YBP.14, 15, 16 There are various genetic arguments favouring the Basques as the most homogeneous relict population of the pre-Neolithic inhabitants of Europe. Therefore, the genetic make-up of the Neolithic Basques is likely to mirror the general genetic signature of Neolithic populations in Europe.17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 "

"In conclusion, considering the frequencies of lactase persistence in modern populations in Europe that reaches 80%, and the quasi-absence of this genotype in Mesolithic and Early Neolithic Central-European samples, we can conclude that an ancient South-West European population from the Basque Country displays an intermediate prevalence of the −13910T genotype of 27%. This suggests that during, but especially after the Neolithic, a positive selective pressure on lactase persistence may have been exerted after cattle domestication, but this took place from standing population variation, at a time when fresh milk consumption was already fully adopted as a consequence of a cultural influence."

Extraction of DNA samples was from teeth samples to avoid contamination.
There appears to be no Y DNA extraction or analysis.
The analysis would suggest that the Neolithic Agricultural revolution was well underway in the Basque country by 5,000 - 4,500 YBP.

« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 12:47:48 PM by Heber » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2012, 01:27:57 PM »

Jean Manco has a blog entry on this: http://dna-forums.org/index.php?//blog/2/entry-200-lactase-persistence-in-3rd-millenium-bc-basque-country/

I think she has the full article and documented those findings here:
http://www.buildinghistory.org/distantpast/ancientdna.shtml

She is apparently trying to correlate the lactase persistence with cattle Y DNA haplogroup frequencies. Bovine Hg Y1 is found more in Northern Europe AND Cantabria.

I'm lost a little on this part. What lactase persistence gene are we talking about? It is important to understand if 13910T is found versus the others? 13910T has the heavy ties to R-L11, right? I think she is saying they found it in these Chalcolithic/Late Neolithic finds, but in low frequencies.

Could this explain the language difference for the Basques?  Back in the Chalcolithic/Late Neolithic timeframe, R-L11 (or may R-P312 in this case) may have been a minority in the population.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 01:30:48 PM by Mikewww » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2012, 03:07:31 PM »

Jean Manco has a blog entry on this: http://dna-forums.org/index.php?//blog/2/entry-200-lactase-persistence-in-3rd-millenium-bc-basque-country/

I think she has the full article and documented those findings here:
http://www.buildinghistory.org/distantpast/ancientdna.shtml

She is apparently trying to correlate the lactase persistence with cattle Y DNA haplogroup frequencies. Bovine Hg Y1 is found more in Northern Europe AND Cantabria.

I'm lost a little on this part. What lactase persistence gene are we talking about? It is important to understand if 13910T is found versus the others? 13910T has the heavy ties to R-L11, right? I think she is saying they found it in these Chalcolithic/Late Neolithic finds, but in low frequencies ....
On her blog, I asked, "I speculate that it only makes sense that the Chalcolithic/Late Neolithic people of Cantabria had a low frequency of R1b men (possible carriers of 13910T) since 13910T was low at that time? There may not have been enough of them at the time to motivate the conversion to an IE language."
Her response was:
Quote from: JeanM
That wasn't my thinking at all. Let's assume for the moment that

    R1b entered Europe with dairy farmers.
    13910T arose among such dairy farmers and, being useful in that environment, was not bred out, but actually multiplied.
    Some of said dairy farmers did their multiplying in the Cucuteni Culture adjacent to the steppe.
    Around 4000 BC the Cucuteni Culture suffered drought. Some of its inhabitants probably left, looking for greener pastures.
    Some could have moved up the Danube and fed into the TRB, which had some 13910T.
    Others could have moved by sea to Sardinia, where a new culture appeared at that time.
    Some could have moved on from Sardinia to the European mainland and up the Garonne to region between the curve of the Bay of Biscay and the lofty Pyrenees. The mountains capture the sea winds laden with moisture, which falls as rain all year round, keeping the Basque country green. These people would speak the language of the Cucuteni Culture, not PIE. Their language was never recorded, but could have been an ancestor of Basque, Iberian and Palaeo-Sardinian.
    The remnant of the Cucuteni Culture gradually blended with the neighbouring people of the steppe, who spoke PIE. That way 13910T was spread to the latter and from them to their Proto-Uralic-speaking neighbours to the north.
    By c. 3300 BC the Yamnaya were the dominant partner and their language (PIE) was adopted by people previously speakers of the unknown Cucuteni language. So as R1b people moved westward up the Danube at this time, they spread PIE.
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2012, 07:42:06 PM »

Jean Manco has a blog entry on this: http://dna-forums.org/index.php?//blog/2/entry-200-lactase-persistence-in-3rd-millenium-bc-basque-country/

I think she has the full article and documented those findings here:
http://www.buildinghistory.org/distantpast/ancientdna.shtml

She is apparently trying to correlate the lactase persistence with cattle Y DNA haplogroup frequencies. Bovine Hg Y1 is found more in Northern Europe AND Cantabria.

I'm lost a little on this part. What lactase persistence gene are we talking about? It is important to understand if 13910T is found versus the others? 13910T has the heavy ties to R-L11, right? I think she is saying they found it in these Chalcolithic/Late Neolithic finds, but in low frequencies ....
On her blog, I asked, "I speculate that it only makes sense that the Chalcolithic/Late Neolithic people of Cantabria had a low frequency of R1b men (possible carriers of 13910T) since 13910T was low at that time? There may not have been enough of them at the time to motivate the conversion to an IE language."
Her response was:
Quote from: JeanM
That wasn't my thinking at all. Let's assume for the moment that

    R1b entered Europe with dairy farmers.
    13910T arose among such dairy farmers and, being useful in that environment, was not bred out, but actually multiplied.
    Some of said dairy farmers did their multiplying in the Cucuteni Culture adjacent to the steppe.
    Around 4000 BC the Cucuteni Culture suffered drought. Some of its inhabitants probably left, looking for greener pastures.
    Some could have moved up the Danube and fed into the TRB, which had some 13910T.
    Others could have moved by sea to Sardinia, where a new culture appeared at that time.
    Some could have moved on from Sardinia to the European mainland and up the Garonne to region between the curve of the Bay of Biscay and the lofty Pyrenees. The mountains capture the sea winds laden with moisture, which falls as rain all year round, keeping the Basque country green. These people would speak the language of the Cucuteni Culture, not PIE. Their language was never recorded, but could have been an ancestor of Basque, Iberian and Palaeo-Sardinian.
    The remnant of the Cucuteni Culture gradually blended with the neighbouring people of the steppe, who spoke PIE. That way 13910T was spread to the latter and from them to their Proto-Uralic-speaking neighbours to the north.
    By c. 3300 BC the Yamnaya were the dominant partner and their language (PIE) was adopted by people previously speakers of the unknown Cucuteni language. So as R1b people moved westward up the Danube at this time, they spread PIE.

Without hijacking the thread, I am going to say I disagree with the assertion that R1b picked up PIE from steppe peoples (R1a1), but acknowledge that these new lactase persistence findings are very interesting.

I do not understand the whole thing about cattle haplogroups. Does a presence of Y2 cattle in Southern Europe imply an intrusive factor from somewhere else? Maybe someone can expound on this.
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2012, 07:47:44 PM »

Funny thing is I (and apparently Dienekes) was really surprised how HIGH LP was.  Its much higher than the LBK samples (where I understand it was absent).  If these are pre-beaker sites (which seems to be the case) then this rise in LP was likely indigenous.  Personally I believe that LP existed in low numbers and was simply slowly increased throughout the Neolithic and beyond in areas where cattle dairying dominated over arable farming.  I dont think it was cultural-specific and may have existed in low quantities since even pre-farming times.  The alternative that it was spread by a specific population doesnt seem to have strong evidence.  Cattle dairying seems to have spread in the middle Neolithic (the early Neolithic of northern  Europe) c. 5000-4000BC but it didnt necessarily have to be accompanied by a spread of people.  The difference is the Med. and central Europe were Neolithicised in pre-dairy times initially by LBK and Cardial while Europe in the north, the north Atlantic, the Alps, Pyrenees etc were only Neolithicised fairly late for the first time and by then cattle dairying had taken off.  So a pattern of gradual adding of LP from 5000BC in SE Europe to 4000BC in northern, Atlantic and Alpine Europe makes sense.  The pattern would surely then have been that long term pastoral type land wasnt settled until dairying and LP persistence selection had already started and then the same lands saw a longer and more persistent selection for LP.  I think looking for a cultural match for this, other than the general spread of farming and dairying is not going to be fruitful.  The late Neolithic Spanish samples probably show us a snapshot in time when LP had gone from zero in 5000BC in Europe to 25% by 3000BC.  The process of increase in LP may have been very gradual and may have taken many 1000s of years to establish today's pattern.  The really interesting aspect of this is that cattle dairying had probably reached the Pyrenees by say 4000BC and by 1000-1500 years later it had already possibly gone from negligible to 25%.  A further 4000 years and it was very high.  
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2012, 07:48:08 PM »

Quote from: Heber link=topic=10310.msg126864#msg126864

It's still telling me I have to pay $32 to read the report.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 07:48:26 PM by rms2 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2012, 07:54:04 PM »

Funny thing is I (and apparently Dienekes) was really surprised how HIGH LP was.  Its much higher than the LBK samples (where I understand it was absent).  If these are pre-beaker sites (which seems to be the case) then this rise in LP was likely indigenous.  Personally I believe that LP existed in low numbers and was simply slowly increased throughout the Neolithic and beyond in areas where cattle dairying dominated over arable farming.  I dont think it was cultural-specific and may have existed in low quantities since even pre-farming times.  The alternative that it was spread by a specific population doesnt seem to have strong evidence.  Cattle dairying seems to have spread in the middle Neolithic (the early Neolithic of northern  Europe) c. 5000-4000BC but it didnt necessarily have to be accompanied by a spread of people.  The difference is the Med. and central Europe were Neolithicised in pre-dairy times initially by LBK and Cardial while Europe in the north, the north Atlantic, the Alps, Pyrenees etc were only Neolithicised fairly late for the first time and by then cattle dairying had taken off.  So a pattern of gradual adding of LP from 5000BC in SE Europe to 4000BC in northern, Atlantic and Alpine Europe makes sense.  The pattern would surely then have been that long term pastoral type land wasnt settled until dairying and LP persistence selection had already started and then the same lands saw a longer and more persistent selection for LP.  I think looking for a cultural match for this, other than the general spread of farming and dairying is not going to be fruitful.  The late Neolithic Spanish samples probably show us a snapshot in time when LP had gone from zero in 5000BC in Europe to 25% by 3000BC.  The process of increase in LP may have been very gradual and may have taken many 1000s of years to establish today's pattern.  The really interesting aspect of this is that cattle dairying had probably reached the Pyrenees by say 4000BC and by 1000-1500 years later it had already possibly gone from negligible to 25%.  A further 4000 years and it was very high.  

I agree with you. All it takes to be lactase persistent is one "T" at 13910. It's a dominant trait, so if one parent blesses you with a "T", you're a milk drinker for life (if you want to be). It's easy to see how a dominant trait can expand from low levels to very high ones, especially if it confers a survival advantage.

I think the idea that LP came from the steppe and spread with PIE is looking weak after this find.

But I still want to know the y haplogroup of these prehistoric remains from Spain!
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2012, 08:11:31 PM »

The archaeological sites are located in the south of modern Basque Country, outside of the Basque peopled area. The sites belong to cultures derivative from Cardium pottery culture, so the sample IMO must be considered representative of the Cardium pottery Neoltihic culture.

I am still unable to read the report because I don't want to pay $32 for it.

Are you sure these LP individuals came from Cardium Pottery sites? The reason I ask is that one of the posters at Dienekes' blog suggested Beaker Folk, so I want to be sure we can exclude that.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 08:11:57 PM by rms2 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2012, 08:30:35 PM »

I've read a couple of papers from these sites.  I didn't see any mention of Beakers.  However, the arrow points found were of the leaf shaped and tanged types.  The Beakers preferred the tanged ones.  The burials were in a combination of rockshelters, caves, and megalithic tombs.  Some of the skeletons were mentioned as relatively tall (167cm) as Beakers were known to be.  My guess is that these are mostly old neolithic remnants...with the possibility of newcomers.  I will look for the papers when I get more time.

This time frame is right before the beginning of Bell Beaker in Iberia, though that doesn't exclude early movements of "proto-Beaker" pioneers (or stelae people) from the east bringing the LP gene.  This may explain the low percentage.
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 09:21:20 PM »

Here's one of them..

http://independent.academia.edu/BelenMarquez/Papers/347260/Projectile_Points_As_Signs_of_Violence_In_Collective_Burials_During_the_4th_and_the_3rd_Millenium_Cal._BC_In_the_NE_of_the_Iberian_Peninsula

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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2012, 03:25:46 PM »

The archaeological sites are located in the south of modern Basque Country, outside of the Basque peopled area. The sites belong to cultures derivative from Cardium pottery culture, so the sample IMO must be considered representative of the Cardium pottery Neoltihic culture.

I am still unable to read the report because I don't want to pay $32 for it.

Are you sure these LP individuals came from Cardium Pottery sites? The reason I ask is that one of the posters at Dienekes' blog suggested Beaker Folk, so I want to be sure we can exclude that.
Yes, San Juan ante portam is dated  3000-3200 BC, clearly pre Beaker, Longar is dated around 2500 BC, just outside Bell Beaker for the region.
The region of both sites is the valley of the river Ebro. Neolithic Cardial populations arrived to the Mediterranean coast of Spain and from there they followed up the river until they arrived to the upper Ebro around 4000 BC.
San Juan ante portam is a mass burial of almost 300 individuals, many of them showing a violent death (arrow heads and other wounds), apparently the result of a massacre.
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2012, 07:53:56 PM »

I sure wish they had gotten y-dna from those remains. It would be interesting to know to what y haplogroup(s) they belonged.
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