Genetic variation in prehistoric Sardinia
We sampled teeth from 53 ancient Sardinian (Nuragic) individuals who lived in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age, between 3,430 and 2,700 years ago. After eliminating the samples that, in preliminary biochemical tests, did not show a high probability to yield reproducible results, we obtained 23 sequences of the mitochondrial DNA control region, which were associated to haplogroups by comparison with a dataset of modern sequences. The Nuragic samples show a remarkably low genetic diversity, comparable to that observed in ancient Iberians, but much lower than among the Etruscans. Most of these sequences have exact matches in two modern Sardinian populations, supporting a clear genealogical continuity from the Late Bronze Age up to current times. The Nuragic populations appear to be part of a large and geographically unstructured cluster of modern European populations, thus making it difficult to infer their evolutionary relationships. However, the low levels of genetic diversity, both within and among ancient samples, as opposed to the sharp differences among modern Sardinian samples, support the hypothesis of the expansion of a small group of maternally related individuals, and of comparatively recent differentiation of the Sardinian gene pools.
- Achilli A, Olivieri A, Pala M, Metspalu E, Fornarino S, Battaglia V, Accetturo M, Kutuev I, Khusnutdinova E, Pennarun E, Cerutti N, Di Gaetano C, Crobu F, Palli D, Matullo G, Santachiara-Benerecetti S, Cavalli-Sforza LL, Semino O, Villems R, Bandelt HJ, Piazza A, Torroni A (2007) Mitochondrial DNA variation of modern Tuscans supports the Near Eastern origin of Etruscans. Am J Hum Genet 80:759–768PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Caramelli D, Lalueza-Fox C, Vernesi C, Lari M, Casoli A, Mallegni F, Chiarelli B, Dupanloup I, Bertranpetit J, Barbujani G, Bertorelle G (2003) Evidence for a genetic discontinuity between Neandertals and 24,000-year-old anatomically modern Europeans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:6593–6597PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Excoffier LG, Laval S, Schneider S (2005) Arlequin ver. 3.0: an integrated software package for population genetics data analysis. Evol Bioinform Online 1:47–50Google Scholar
- Nei M, Kumar S (2000) Molecular evolution and phylogenetics. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Semino O, Passarino G, Oefner PJ, Lin AA, Arbuzova S, Beckman LE, De Benedictis G, Francalacci P, Kouvatsi A, Limborska S, Marcikiae M, Mika A, Mika B, Primorac D, Santachiara-Benerecetti AS, Cavalli-Sforza LL, Underhill PA (2000) The genetic legacy of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens in extant Europeans: a Y chromosome perspective. Science 290:1155–1159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Webster GS (1996) A prehistory of Sardinia 2300–500 BC. Sheffield Academic Press, SheffieldGoogle Scholar