Complex history of admixture between modern humans and neandertals

Benjamin Vernot, Joshua M. Akey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent analyses have found that a substantial amount of the Neandertal genome persists in the genomes of contemporary non-African individuals. East Asians have, on average, higher levels of Neandertal ancestry than do Europeans, which might be due to differences in the efficiency of purifying selection, an additional pulse of introgression into East Asians, or other unexplored scenarios. To better define the scope of plausible models of archaic admixture between Neandertals and anatomically modern humans, we analyzed patterns of introgressed sequence in whole-genome data of 379 Europeans and 286 East Asians. We found that inferences of demographic history restricted to neutrally evolving genomic regions allowed a simple one-pulse model to be robustly rejected, suggesting that differences in selection cannot explain the differences in Neandertal ancestry. We show that two additional demographic models, involving either a second pulse of Neandertal gene flow into the ancestors of East Asians or a dilution of Neandertal lineages in Europeans by admixture with an unknown ancestral population, are consistent with the data. Thus, the history of admixture between modern humans and Neandertals is most likely more complex than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-453
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Volume96
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 5 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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