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Nat Commun. 2017 Jul 4;8:16046. doi: 10.1038/ncomms16046.

Deeply divergent archaic mitochondrial genome provides lower time boundary for African gene flow into Neanderthals.

Author information

1
Institute for Archaeological Sciences, University of Tübingen, Rümelin Strasse 23, Tübingen 72070, Germany.
2
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Khalaische Strasse 10, Jena 07745, Germany.
3
Department of Geosciences, Biogeology, University of Tübingen, Hölderlin Strasse 12, Tübingen 72074, Germany.
4
Department of Prehistory, National Museum of Natural History, UMR 7194 CNRS, 1 rue René Panhard, Paris 75013, France.
5
Estonian Biocentre, Riia 23b, Tartu 51010, Estonia.
6
Department of Biology, University of Padova, Via Ugo Bassi 58/B, Padova 35121, Italy.
7
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Street, Cambridge CB2 1QH, UK.
8
New York Genome Center, 101 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10013, USA.
9
Ulmer Museum, Marktplatz 9, Ulm 89073, Germany.
10
Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, University of Tübingen, Schloss Hohentübingen, Tübingen 72070, Germany.
11
State Office for Cultural Heritage Baden-Württemberg, Berliner Strasse 12, Esslingen 73728, Germany.
12
Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, University of Tübingen, Hölderlin Strasse 12, Tübingen 72074, Germany.

Abstract

Ancient DNA is revealing new insights into the genetic relationship between Pleistocene hominins and modern humans. Nuclear DNA indicated Neanderthals as a sister group of Denisovans after diverging from modern humans. However, the closer affinity of the Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to modern humans than Denisovans has recently been suggested as the result of gene flow from an African source into Neanderthals before 100,000 years ago. Here we report the complete mtDNA of an archaic femur from the Hohlenstein-Stadel (HST) cave in southwestern Germany. HST carries the deepest divergent mtDNA lineage that splits from other Neanderthals ∼270,000 years ago, providing a lower boundary for the time of the putative mtDNA introgression event. We demonstrate that a complete Neanderthal mtDNA replacement is feasible over this time interval even with minimal hominin introgression. The highly divergent HST branch is indicative of greater mtDNA diversity during the Middle Pleistocene than in later periods.

PMID:
28675384
PMCID:
PMC5500885
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms16046
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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