Human genetic history on the Tibetan Plateau in the past 5100 years




Using genome-wide data of 89 ancient individuals dated to 5100 to 100 years before the present (B.P.) from 29 sites across the Tibetan Plateau, we found plateau-specific ancestry across plateau populations, with substantial genetic structure indicating high differentiation before 2500 B.P. Northeastern plateau populations rapidly showed admixture associated with millet farmers by 4700 B.P. in the Gonghe Basin. High genetic similarity on the southern and southwestern plateau showed population expansion along the Yarlung Tsangpo River since 3400 years ago. Central and southeastern plateau populations revealed extensive genetic admixture within the plateau historically, with substantial ancestry related to that found in southern and southwestern plateau populations. Over the past ~700 years, substantial gene flow from lowland East Asia further shaped the genetic landscape of present-day plateau populations. The high-altitude adaptive EPAS1 allele was found in plateau populations as early as in a 5100-year-old individual and showed a sharp increase over the past 2800 years.

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