Research & Innovation

Irish Research Council-funded Scholar sequences first ancient Irish human genomes

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Irish Research Council-funded Scholar sequences first ancient Irish human genomes

July 07
11:35 2016

irc_logo_hi-resThe first genomes from ancient Irish humans has sequenced by a team of geneticists from Trinity College Dublin and archaeologists from Queen’s University Belfast. With the help of the information buried within already answering pivotal questions about the origins of Ireland’s people and their culture.

The team, including Irish Research Council-funded Scholar Lara Cassidy, sequenced the genome of an early farmer woman, who lived near Belfast some 5,200 years ago, and those of three men from a later period, around 4,000 years ago in the Bronze Age, after the introduction of metalworking. Their landmark results were published in the international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ireland has intriguing genetics. It lies at the edge of many European genetic gradients with world maxima for the variants that code for lactose tolerance, the western European Y chromosome type, and several important genetic diseases including one of excessive iron retention, called haemochromatosis. However, the origins of this heritage are unknown. The only way to discover our genetic past is to sequence genomes directly from ancient people, by embarking on a type of genetic time travel.


Trinity College is the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin, a research university in Ireland.

Queen’s University Belfast is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university was chartered in 1845, and opened in 1849 as “Queen’s College, Belfast”, but has roots going back to 1810 and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.

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