Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-06 > 1117857497

From: "ljcrain1" <>
Subject: Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza Among Geneticist Interested in Lactose Tolerance Place of Origin
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005 22:58:17 -0500


Ural Farmers Got Milk Gene First?

TORONTO, CANADA--More than 5000 experts met here from 26 to 30 October for the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. Longevity, milk digestion, and cancer were among the topics.

By some estimates, less than half of all adults can easily digest milk, a trait believed to have first appeared in people who kept dairy animals. Now scientists have traced the genetic roots of milk tolerance to the Ural mountains of western Russia, well north of where pastoralism is thought to have begun. The surprising result may support a theory that nomads from the Urals were one of two major farmer groups that spread into Europe, bringing the Indo-European languages that eventually diverged into the world's largest family of modern languages.

The populations having the greatest DNA sequence diversity around the lactase gene mutations--suggesting that lactose tolerance first appeared in them--include the Udmurts, Mokshas, Ezras, and other groups that originally lived between the Ural mountains and the Volga River. The trait most likely developed 4800 to 6600 years ago, Peltonen says. Her team linked the lactase gene changes to an ancestral variant that these groups apparently got from intermixing with tribes migrating from the Asian steppes.

"I find [the new study] very interesting," says population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University. He notes that a competing idea for explaining the origin of the Proto-Indo-Europeans is that they were crop-growing farmers from the Anatolia region in modern Turkey (Science, 27 February, p. 1323). But the milk study reinforces Cavalli-Sforza's view that both theories are correct: Indo-Europeans migrated to Europe in two waves, first from Turkey and later from the Urals.

"The findings support the somewhat controversial theory that nomadic herders known as Kurgans expanded into Europe from the southern Urals 4500 to 3500 years ago, bringing Indo-European languages with them, according to Peltonen."

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