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West Asian sources of the Eurasian component in Ethiopians: a reassessment

By Ludovica Molinaro, Francesco Montinaro, Toomas Kivisild, Luca Pagani

Posted 08 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/694299 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-55344-y)

Previous genome-scale studies of populations living today in Ethiopia have found evidence of recent gene flow from an Eurasian source, dating to the last 3,000 years. Haplotype and genotype data based analyses of modern and ancient data (aDNA) have considered Sardinia-like proxy, broadly Levantine or Neolithic Levantine populations as a range of possible sources for this gene flow. Given the ancient nature of this gene flow and the extent of population movements and replacements that affected West Asia in the last 3000 years, aDNA evidence would seem as the best proxy for determining the putative population source. We demonstrate, however, that the deeply divergent, autochthonous African component which accounts for ~50% of most contemporary Ethiopian genomes, affects the overall allele frequency spectrum to an extent that makes it hard to control for it and, at once, to discern between subtly different, yet important, Eurasian sources (such as Anatolian or Levant Neolithic ones). Here we re-assess pattern of allele sharing between the Eurasian component of Ethiopians (here called NAF for Non African) and ancient and modern proxies area after having extracted NAF from Ethiopians through ancestry deconvolution, and unveil a genomic signature compatible with population movements that affected the Mediterranean area and the Levant after the fall of the Minoan civilization.

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