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BiRC seminar: Ryan Waples, Postdoc

Computational and RNA Biology, Copenhagen University

2019.09.12 | Ellen Bernadette Noer

Date Fri 25 Oct
Time 14:15 15:00
Location BiRC, room 1110-223, C.F. Møllers Alle 8, 8000 Aarhus


Where did the European ancestors of the Greenlanders come from?


The Inuit ancestors of the Greenlandic people arrived in Greenland close to 1000 years ago and remained largely isolated for hundreds of years. Previous genetic studies have shown that the current population of Greenland has approximately 25% of its genetic ancestry from Europe, due to gene flow over the past few hundred years. However, genetic studies have not established which countries this European ancestry is from. While Denmark is an obvious source of European ancestry in Greenland, historical records show contact with people from many other European countries, including Dutch whalers and missionaries from Norway and Central Europe. Motivated by this, we applied recently developed haplotype-based statistical methods to resolve the sources of European ancestry to the country level. We analyzed genetic data from 1763 Greenlanders from all parts of Greenland, including 1582 Greenlanders with some European ancestry as well as 8275 Europeans from 14 different countries. We found that almost all the European ancestry in the Greenlandic population is from Denmark, with a minor contribution from Norway. In contrast, we found little - if any - ancestry from non-Scandinavian countries, including the Netherlands and Central European countries, despite records of historical contact. These findings provide new genetic insights into who the European ancestors of the Greenlanders are and help enrich our understanding of the history of Greenlandic-European contact.

Lecture / talk