Iran is considered a pivotal region in the Fertile Crescent, occupying a central space between Africa and Eurasia, and has thus been extensively studied to infer the development of the earliest human civilizations and farming settlements. From a historical and cultural perspective, this region is also of great interest as the cradle of Zoroastrianism. With reported roots dating back to the second millennium BC in Iran, Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world and is now mainly concentrated in India, Iran, and Southern Pakistan. In this work we present novel genotype data from present-day Zoroastrians from Iran and India, along with a high coverage (10x) early Neolithic sample from Iran (7,455-7,082 BC), comparing these samples to publicly available genome-wide genotypes from >200 modern and ancient groups worldwide to elucidate patterns of shared ancestry. We apply a novel Bayesian mixture model to represent the DNA from modern and ancient groups or individuals as mixtures of that from other sampled groups or individuals, using a haplotype-based approach that is more powerful than commonly-used algorithms. Our mixture model identifies which sampled groups are most related to one another genetically, reflecting shared common ancestry relative to other groups due to e.g. admixture (i.e. intermixing of genetically distinct groups) or other historical processes. Interestingly, analysis of ancestry patterns revealed strong affinities of the Neolithic Iranian sample to modern-day Pakistani and Indian populations, and particularly to Iranian Zoroastrians, in stark contrast to Neolithic samples from Europe. We also identify, describe and date recent admixture events in modern-day Iranian groups that have altered their current genetic make-up relative to these ancient origins.Saioa López et al., The genetic landscape of Iran and the legacy of Zoroastrianism: Comparing haplotype sharing patterns among ancient and modern-day samples using a mixture model, poster presentation, Quantitative Genomics 2016, University College London (UCL) See also... Neolithic genome from Iran SMBE 2016 teaser
Monday, June 13, 2016
Another ancient genome from Iran coming soon
Update 14/07/2016: Early Neolithic genomes from the eastern Fertile Crescent (Broushaki et al. 2016) ... Very interesting abstract here from a recent genomics conference in London. I do have a few more details from this presentation, but I guess they're not yet online for a reason, so let's just wait until the paper comes out. Suffice to say, the data in this paper is going to be very useful in the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) homeland debate. I just hope that the mixture model chosen by the authors is really solid and doesn't leave too much to the imagination.