Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2009-06 > 1244192765

From: George Irubakidze <>
Subject: [DNA] Italy Acted as a Refuge for Paleolithic Humans When AdvancingIce Sheets and Permafrost of the Last Glacial Maximum ForcedAbandonment of Most of European Continent for 10, 000 Years
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2009 02:06:05 -0700 (PDT)

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy
Foundation Assists International Scientific Team in Establishing Italian
Peninsula as a Significant Source of the People Who Recolonized Post-Ice Age
Europe ; * Italy Acted as a Refuge for Paleolithic Humans When Advancing Ice Sheets
and Permafrost of the Last Glacial Maximum Forced Abandonment of Most of
European Continent for 10,000 Years * Large Sample of Rare European
Mitochondrial DNA Analyzed at Highest Level of Molecular Resolution Provides
Evidence to Fill Gaps in Scientific Record * Research will be Published in the
June 12 Issue of American Journal of Human Genetics

SALT LAKE CITY - (BUSINESS WIRE) - Genetic researchers from nine
European and Middle Eastern educational organizations, led by the University of
Pavia, Italy, and assisted by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
(SMGF) of Salt Lake City, Utah, will publish a study today showing for the
first time the Italian peninsula was a significant source for the humans who
recolonized the northern and central European continent beginning about 15,000
years ago, after the peak of the last Ice Age, when ice sheets, permafrost and
alpine glaciers receded and the climate again became habitable.

researchers’ analysis of a portion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from
35,000 subjects, which is inherited maternally, will be published this month in
the prestigious American Journal of Human Genetics. The scientists employed
SMGF’s genetic genealogy database — the world’s most
extensive collection of its kind — analyzed a number of SMGF-provided DNA
samples, and used other resources in this first study of the rare U5b3 genetic
group found only in Europeans.

is committed to scientific exploration of the human family’s deep
roots,” said Dr. Scott Woodward, executive director of the non-profit
scientific organization. “For years now, we have collaborated with world-renowned
genetic researchers who are piecing together the puzzle of humankind’s
early years and showing how closely related we all are to each other.”
Ugo Perego, a geneticist and SMGF director of operations, assisted in writing
the study’s final manuscript.

used molecular genetics to help answer lingering questions about human
prehistory in Europe. Scientists had already
established that fully modern humans entered Europe
about 45,000 years ago during an interglacial period, leaving archaeological
evidence of their Upper Paleolithic hunting-gathering lifestyle. But about
20,000 years later, the Earth began a dramatic cooling, culminating in the Last
Glacial Maximum. Here, the archaeological record in northern and central Europe disappears for ten thousand years.

Where did
surviving human groups go? Earlier scientific evidence shows Italy was a
refuge for plants and animals during this harshest era of the Ice Age; the
peninsula did not have ice sheets or permafrost. But until this study of the U5b3
genetic group, no human genetic contribution from Paleolithic Italy to modern
Europeans had been detected.

SMGF’s mtDNA database and other resources, geneticists can screen the
frequency and distribution of thousands of genetic profiles and genealogical
data, and carefully select the most informative DNA samples to be analyzed at
the highest level of molecular resolution. They can then map the deep history
and migration of lineages like U5b3 because the mtDNA found in today’s
population originated in ancient ancestors and survived in successive
generations essentially intact, along with a built-in molecular clock.

With the
addition of Italy,
scientists now know of four glacial refuge zones for Paleolithic humans: Italy, Iberia
(Franco-Cantabria), the Balkans, and Ukraine. Most of the mtDNA lineages
observed in people of European descent today are related to Ice Age survivors
from these refuges of southern Europe.

As the
climate warmed beginning about 15,000 years ago, humans, animals and plants again
expanded their range into central and northern Europe.
Restricted by the Alps, groups from Italy
migrated along the Mediterranean. Researchers
in this study also discovered two smaller sister lineages linking people on the
island of Sardinia
with those in the Provence area of France 7-9,000
years ago, a close connection that reflects the intensive obsidian trade in the
area at that time.

study, “Mitochondrial Haplogroup
U5b3: A Distant Echo of the Epipaleolithic in Italy and the Legacy of the Early Sardinians,”
will be published online June 4 and printed in the June 12 issue of the
American Journal of Human Genetics. Dr. Maria Pala and Professor Antonio
Torroni of the University of Pavia, Italy, and Dr.
Alessandro Achilli of the University of Perugia, Italy, are the leading
researchers. Scientists from University of Sassari, Italy; University of Tartu
and Estonian Biocentre, Estonia; Innsbruck Medical University, Austria;
University of Baghdad, Iraq; University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Rambam
Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel; and University of Hamburg, Germany, also

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF;
is a non-profit research organization that has created the world's largest
repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information. The SMGF
database currently contains information about more than seven million ancestors
through linked DNA samples and pedigree charts from more than 170 countries, or
approximately 90 percent of the nations of the world. The foundation's purpose
is to foster a greater sense of identity, connection and belonging among all
people by showing how closely we are connected as members of a single human
family. For more information about the foundation's free, publicly available
database, visit

Molecular Genealogy Foundation Public Relations Jacob Moon, 801-490-1017

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