Lactase persistence and the early Cultural History of Europe  
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UpsaalaThe Department of Evolutionary Biology of Uppsala University has been graded as a strong research environment by the Swedish Research Council. The Gotherstrom research group is presently located in Madrid and Uppsala and group holds various grants, including major contributions from The Royal Swedish Academy of Science and The Swedish Research Council. A snapshot from 2006 shows a publication record of 28 peer reviewed articles from that year, including Science .

ESR6 Ancient DNA under selection
Dr Anders Götherström

This ESR will make use of recent advances in contamination identification and SNP typing technology developed at UU to address questions concerning co evolution of traits in humans and cattle. The project relies mainly on SNPs from coding regions, and techniques to assess such SNPs from ancient material will be used (Svensson et al. Animal Genetics, in press). A SNP panel targeting a larger amount of genes in cattle remains have been developed and tested at UU. The success rate is explained by the reduced fragment size provided with SNP typing (MBE, 2007, 24:998), and will be applied to remains selected by ER1 (sites) and ESR13 (preservation) and studied by <a href="CNRS.html#ESR1">ESR1</a>. Eventually, SNPing technology will also be applied to Neolithic human remains, mainly to the the 13.910*T polymorphism upstream the lactase gene (ESR4). In most cases ancient remains contains more modern contaminating DNA than authentic ancient human DNA (Malmström et al. MBE, 2005). Harsh chemical pretreatment of the material, together with large series of DNA quantitation based on real time qPCR have proven useful tools (MBE, 2007, 22:2040). When this is further combined with massive 454 cloning of amplicons, it seems to be possible to separate ancient human DNA from modern contamination (Malmström et al. in prep). It is hoped that LeCHE will permit large chronological series of ancient humans and ancient cattle to be typed in parallel in order to compare allele frequencies between humans and cattle This project links to ER1 ,ESR4, ESR5, ESR10, ESR7, and will be guided in sample selection by ER1 and ESR13, providing data for ESR12 and ESR2. The material will be from sites also yielding material to ESR7 and ESR10 to ensure comparison with various indicators for milk usage and milk consumption, and the results from ESR4 and ESR5 will be suitable for comparison and the results from these projects will serve as independent controls.


Dr. Anders Götherström the coordinator of LeCHE is Associate Professor of Evolutionary Genetics at the University of Uppsala, and has just received a highly competitive research fellowship from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. His main interests lie in ancient human DNA and the main problems (contamination), as well as in animal domestication and early breeding practices. He has led three major research projects and is presently administrating projects financed by Swedish VR.

Prof. Hans Ellegrenis conducting research on evolutionary genomics, and he has wide expertise in evolutionary genetics, animal domestication, and evolutionary genomics.

Prof. Carles Víla is conducting research on animal conservation at the department, and he has expertise in the genetics of animal domestication as well as in animal conservation.

Associate Prof. Hanna Johannessonis conducting research on fungal speciation, in which field she is an acknowledged expert.

Assistant Prof. Jennifer Leonard is conducting research on faunal extinction and cold adaptation of arctic species with aDNA; she is an acknowledged expert in this field. 


University of Uppsala will coordinate LeCHE.
The department has cutting edge technology for genetic typing: three DNA extraction facilities two PCR setup facilities one post PCR facility, two 96 capillary sequencing instruments (Megabace and ABI), pyrosequencing equipment, 12 PCR blocks (of which eight are distributed in two PCR tetrads), real time PCR equipment, dHPLC equipment, and nanodrop DNA quantifying equipment. The department collaborates worldwide as well as on a national basis with several organisations providing access to genomic sequencing platforms.


1. Svensson et al. Tracing genetic change over time using nuclear SNPs in ancient and modern cattle. (in press) Animal Genetics 

2. Malmström et al. More on contamination: the use of asymmetric molecular behavior to identify authentic ancient human DNA. (2007) MBE 24:998-1004.

3. Anderung et al. Prehistoric contacts over the Straits of Gibraltar indicated by genetic analysis of Iberian Bronze Age cattle. (2005) PNAS 102:8431-8435.