PLOS Computational Biology: The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe

thumbnailWe infer that the coevolution of European LP and dairying originated in a region between central Europe and the northern Balkans around 6,256 to 8,683 years BP. We propose the following scenario: after the arrival of the Neolithic in south-eastern Europe and the increasing importance of cattle herding and dairying, natural selection started to act on a few LP individuals of the early Neolithic cultures of the northern Balkans. After the initial slow increase of LP frequency in those populations and the onset of the Central European LBK culture around 7,500 BP, LP frequencies rose more rapidly in a gene-culture co-evolutionary process and on the wave front of a demographic expansion (see Supplementary Videos S1, S2 and S3), leading to the establishment of highly developed cattle- (and partly also goat-) based dairying economies during the Middle Neolithic of central Europe around 6,500 BP. A latitudinal effect on selection for LP, through an increased requirement for dietary vitamin D [20], is unnecessary to explain the high frequencies found in northern Europe.

via PLOS Computational Biology: The Origins of Lactase Persistence in Europe.

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