The Genetic Impact of the Agricultural Revolution

The agricultural revolution 8,500 years ago in Eurasia, changed the way people lived right down to their DNA, as outlined in a new paper published in Nature. By using modern DNA extraction techniques, the researchers collected what is now to date the largest collection of genome-wide datasets from ancient human remains; the team was able to identify specific genes that changed during and after the transition from hunting and gathering to farming.

Many of the variants occurred on or near genes that have been associated with height, the ability to digest lactose in adulthood, fatty acid metabolism, vitamin D levels, light skin pigmentation and blue eye color. Two variants appear on genes that have been linked to higher risk of celiac disease but that may have been important in adapting to an early agricultural diet.

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