The 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2016)

Neanderthal ancestry in Yemeni populations


1Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, 2Genetics Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, 3Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sana’a, Sana’a, Yemen

April 16, 2016 , Atrium Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Analyses of the Neanderthal genomes are strongly consistent with the idea that early modern human populations interbred with Neanderthals in the Near East soon after their successful dispersal out of Africa. However, it is unclear which part of the Near East this dispersal first crossed through, and few studies have assessed Neanderthal ancestry in Near Eastern populations,

We assayed 90 Yemenis sampled from across the country using the Affymetrix Human Origins array. We merged our data with previously published datasets from around the world as well as data from Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes in order to estimate archaic ancestry in modern populations. We also conducted ADMIXTURE analyses on a more regionalized dataset in order to infer ancestral components in Near Eastern populations.

Consistent with other studies, we found that North African and Near Eastern populations (including the Yemeni) generally have less Neanderthal ancestry than other western Eurasian populations. However, our ADMIXTURE results indicate that a subset of Yemeni samples from the Mahra governate share a very high level of ancestry (~85%) with a single Near Eastern component. Interestingly, these individuals have Neanderthal ancestry estimates that are greater than estimates from almost all Near Eastern and North African populations and are more consistent with estimates from European and South/Central Asian populations, suggesting that eastern Yemen may be an area of elevated Neanderthal introgression in the Near East. Greater sampling of Near Eastern populations is needed to better understand variation in Neanderthal ancestry and the site(s) where modern humans and Neanderthals interbred.

Samples used in the study were collected with support of NSF grant BCS-0518530 and genotyped with support of NSF grant BCS-1258965