A new study in Dublin gives us a first look at early Irish genetic traits. The research enabled scientists to identify those particular characteristics that make Irish people unique from a genetic point of view and to determine the historical era when they first emerged.
A group of scientists from Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin set out to determine the genetic evolution of the Irish population. For this purpose, they have studied various DNA sequences pertaining to different historical periods. Better say, they have accomplished a genetic travel in time to understand how DNA sequences changed from one period to another.
The first genome to be placed under the microscope belonged to a farmer Irish woman who lived approximately 5,200 years ago. Researchers then looked at three different genomic sequences from a later period of time, more specifically from the Bronze Age. These three DNA sequences that were formed 4,000 years ago belonged to three men, scientists have explained.
By comparing the two DNA samples, researchers have reached the conclusion that Irish people acquired new traits through migration. Thus, Irish people went through different stages from hunters to farmers to stone and metal workers as they moved from one region to another. These new activities have triggered physical characteristics, as well.
According to the new study, the genomic characteristics of the farmer woman originated somewhere in the Middle East. The Bronze Age sequences, on the other hand appear to be correlated to the Pontic Steppe.
Dan Bradley from the Trinity College Dublin has concluded that there was a strong genomic influence coming from the Black Sea during the Bronze Age. The genetic change could be associated with other cultural modifications including the adoption of the western Celtic languages, the Professor of Population Genetics concluded.
For the moment, it suffices to know that the unique DNA sequences of Irish people are related to their migrations. This helps explain why the Irish have lactose tolerance and the European Y chromosome, whereas other population lack them. Moreover, the new genomic study could shed light on haemochromatosis, the genetic disease that Irish have which presupposes an excessive retention of iron.
The findings of the new study were detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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