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PLoS Biol. 2018 Jan 9;16(1):e2003703. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2003703. eCollection 2018 Jan.

Population genomics of Mesolithic Scandinavia: Investigating early postglacial migration routes and high-latitude adaptation.

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Department of Organismal Biology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Middle East Technical University, Department of Biological Sciences, Ankara, Turkey.
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University-Campus Gotland, Visby, Sweden.
Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, Oslo, Norway.
Tromsø University Museum, University of Tromsø-The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.
Department of Electrical Engineering, Center for Processing Speech and Images, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Anthropology, Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
Department of Internal Medicine and Radboud Center for Infectious Diseases, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Department of Archaeology and Cultural History, Norwegian University of Science and Technology University Museum, Trondheim, Norway.
SciLifeLab, Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden.


Scandinavia was one of the last geographic areas in Europe to become habitable for humans after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). However, the routes and genetic composition of these postglacial migrants remain unclear. We sequenced the genomes, up to 57× coverage, of seven hunter-gatherers excavated across Scandinavia and dated from 9,500-6,000 years before present (BP). Surprisingly, among the Scandinavian Mesolithic individuals, the genetic data display an east-west genetic gradient that opposes the pattern seen in other parts of Mesolithic Europe. Our results suggest two different early postglacial migrations into Scandinavia: initially from the south, and later, from the northeast. The latter followed the ice-free Norwegian north Atlantic coast, along which novel and advanced pressure-blade stone-tool techniques may have spread. These two groups met and mixed in Scandinavia, creating a genetically diverse population, which shows patterns of genetic adaptation to high latitude environments. These potential adaptations include high frequencies of low pigmentation variants and a gene region associated with physical performance, which shows strong continuity into modern-day northern Europeans.

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