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Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 8;7(1):17199. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17124-4.

The Irish DNA Atlas: Revealing Fine-Scale Population Structure and History within Ireland.

Author information

Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Genealogical Society of Ireland, Dún Laoghaire, Ireland.
School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Genome Technology Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine and Department of Oncology, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7DQ, UK.
School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
University of Bristol, Department of Mathematics, University Walk, Bristol, BS8 1TW, UK.
Centre for Global Health Research, Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, Scotland.
MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Molecular and Cellular Therapeutics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.
The FutureNeuro Research Centre, Dublin, Ireland.


The extent of population structure within Ireland is largely unknown, as is the impact of historical migrations. Here we illustrate fine-scale genetic structure across Ireland that follows geographic boundaries and present evidence of admixture events into Ireland. Utilising the 'Irish DNA Atlas', a cohort (n = 194) of Irish individuals with four generations of ancestry linked to specific regions in Ireland, in combination with 2,039 individuals from the Peoples of the British Isles dataset, we show that the Irish population can be divided in 10 distinct geographically stratified genetic clusters; seven of 'Gaelic' Irish ancestry, and three of shared Irish-British ancestry. In addition we observe a major genetic barrier to the north of Ireland in Ulster. Using a reference of 6,760 European individuals and two ancient Irish genomes, we demonstrate high levels of North-West French-like and West Norwegian-like ancestry within Ireland. We show that that our 'Gaelic' Irish clusters present homogenous levels of ancient Irish ancestries. We additionally detect admixture events that provide evidence of Norse-Viking gene flow into Ireland, and reflect the Ulster Plantations. Our work informs both on Irish history, as well as the study of Mendelian and complex disease genetics involving populations of Irish ancestry.

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