5,200 year old Irish human skull gets genome sequenced

Geneticists and archaeologists from Trinity College Dublin and Queen's University Belfast have teamed up to sequence the first genomes for ancient Irish people. The researchers hope to use the answers gleaned from the genome to determine the origins of Ireland's people and the culture they celebrate.

The genome was sequenced from an early farmer who lived near Belfast 5,200 years ago and the genome of three other men that lived later, around 4,000 years ago in the Bronze Age. The scientists found interesting things in the Genome decoded including genetics that code for lactose tolerance, Western European Y chromosome type, and genetic markers for diseases including one for excessive iron retention called haemochromatosis.

The female skull is called the Ballynahatty Neolithic skull and the genes the skull provided tell that she had brown eyes and black hair likely resembling southern Europeans. The genetic evidence shows that a massive migration to modern Ireland took place with the early female farmer showing ancestry that originated in the Middle East. The three skulls from the Bronze Age are different from the earlier skull.

About a third of the ancestry of those three came from the Pontic Steppe. The three men studied show the most common Irish Y chromosome type known as blue eye alleles and the variant for the genetic disease haemochromatosis. That genetic disease marker is called C282Y mutation and is so frequent in people of Irish descent that it is often referred to as Celtic Disease.

SOURCE: Phys.org