There is general agreement that the current European gene pool is mainly derived from Palaeolithic\ud hunting-gathering and Neolithic farming ancestors, but different studies disagree on the relative weight of\ud these contributions. We estimated admixture rates in European populations from data on 377 autosomal\ud microsatellite loci in 235 individuals, using five different numerical methods. On average, the Near Eastern\ud (and presumably Neolithic) contribution was between 46 and 66%, and admixture estimates showed, with\ud all methods, a strong and significant negative correlation with distance from the Near East. If the\ud assumptions of the model are approximately correct, i.e. if the Basques’ and Near Easterners’ genomes\ud represent a good approximation to the Palaeolithic and Neolithic settlers of Europe, respectively, these\ud results imply that half or more of the Europeans’ genes are descended from Near Eastern ancestors who\ud immigrated in Europe 10 000 years ago. If these assumptions are incorrect, our results show anyway that\ud clinal variation is the rule in the Europeans’ genomes and that lower estimates of Near Eastern admixture\ud obtained from the analysis of single markers do not reflect the patterns observed at the genomic level
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