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Sunday, 21 February 2016

Human DNA traced in Neandertal DNA

 50,000-year-old Neandertal toe bone contains evidence that humans left a genetic mark on Neandertal DNA (By Bence Viola, Source: Science News)
The findings now suggest that Humans and Neandertals have hooked up earlier as the genetic mixing left the mark on the DNA of a Siberian Neandertal. The research was published online on February 17th of 2016 in the journal Nature. Earlier observation did support that many humans today carry bits of Neandertal DNA, but this finding does provide evidence of the human DNA to be embedded in Neandertal genes.

Geneticists evidenced earlier that early modern humans and Neandertals have mated before 47,000 to 67,000years ago. This evidence of the Stone Age interbreeding was revealed when researchers found traces of Neandertal DNA incorporated in Human genes. May be some of those genes provide risk to certain diseases.

Researchers had been puzzled as they couldn’t able to find indications of interbreeding in Neandertal genome as said by Graham Coop, evolutionary geneticist at University of California, Davis. As due to lesser DNA available from Neandertals, hence scientists did not conclude whether human DNA is mixed in Neandertals. But the recent practice of the research evidence indicate that DNA travelled in both ways.

The woman’s toe bone found in the cave of Altai mountains as the only know fossil of extinct human cousin called Denisovans yielded some of the most well preserved Neandertal DNA.

Adam Siepel, computational biologist at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York and his colleagues compared chromosome 21 of Neandertal and chromosome 21 of Homo sapiens, and also along other Neandertals traces found one from El Sidrón Cave in Spain and another from Vindija Cave in Croatia. The results suggest that Altai Neandertal share most of the DNA with modern human than that of the other two evidences.

Exactly who were the humans who mated with Altai Neandertals isn’t understood. But those humans appear to be equally related to all present Africans.


Reference:
M. Kuhlwilm et al. Ancient gene flow from early modern humans into Eastern Neanderthals. Nature. Published online February 17, 2016. doi:10.1038/nature16544.
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