Recently Sequenced Genome from Ireland Throws Light on Genesis of Celtic Populations

Recently Sequenced Genome from Ireland Throws Light on Genesis of Celtic Populations

For the first time, scientists have been able to sequence the first human genome from Ireland. On sequencing the genomes of a 5,200-year-old female farmer from the Neolithic period and three 4,000-year-old males from the Bronze Age, scientists believe that Irish farmers were similar to those of Southern Europeans. Later on, the genetic patterns changed dramatically in the Bronze Age with the arrival of the newcomers from the eastern periphery of Europe settled in the Atlantic region. Geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen's University Belfast believe the latest discovery of the genome could help shed light on the genesis of Celtic populations.

On analyzing the DNA of the Neolithic woman from Ballynahatty, near Belfast, scientists found that the woman was most similar to modern people from Spain and Sardinia. But her ancestors ultimately came to Europe from the Middle East, where agriculture was invented. Dan Bradley, from Trinity College Dublin, said “There was a great wave of genome change that swept into [Bronze Age] Europe from above the Black Sea. We now know it washed all the way to the shores of its most westerly island”. Prof. Bradley and the team found close genetic affinity of the Rathlin group with the modern Irish, Scottish and Welsh. Currently, Ireland has the world's highest frequencies of genetic variants that code for lactase persistence. Prof Bradley explained that the Rathlin individuals were not identical to modern populations, adding that further work was required to understand how regional diversity came about in Celtic groups.

The study published in the journal PNAS showed there is some haplotypic continuity between our 4,000 year old genomes and the present Celtic populations, which is not shown strongly by the English. The findings conclude that the Bronze Age was a major event in establishment of the insular Celtic genomes.

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