Estimating the impact of prehistoric admixture on the genome of Europeans

Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Jul;21(7):1361-72. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msh135. Epub 2004 Mar 24.


We inferred past admixture processes in the European population from genetic diversity at eight loci, including autosomal, mitochondrial and Y-linked polymorphisms. Admixture coefficients were estimated from multilocus data, assuming that most current populations can be regarded as the result of a hybridization process among four or less potential parental populations. Two main components are apparent in the Europeans' genome, presumably corresponding to the contributions of the first, Paleolithic Europeans, and of the early, Neolithic farmers dispersing from the Near East. In addition, only a small fraction of the European alleles seems to come from North Africa, and a fourth component reflecting gene flow from Northern Asia is largely restricted to the northeast of the continent. The estimated Near Eastern contribution decreases as one moves from east to west, in agreement with the predictions of a model in which (Neolithic) immigrants from the Near East contributed a large share of the alleles in the genome of current Europeans. Several tests suggest that probable departures from the admixture models, due to factors such as choice of the putative parental populations and more complex demographic scenarios, may have affected our main estimates only to a limited extent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Y
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • White People / genetics*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial