Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 23734255
PLoS ONE 2013;8(5):e65441
Located in the center of the Mediterranean landscape and with an extensive coastal line, the territory of what is today Italy has played an important role in the history of human settlements and movements of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Populated since Paleolithic times, the complexity of human movements during the Neolithic, the Metal Ages and the most recent history of the two last millennia (involving the overlapping of different cultural and demic strata) has shaped the pattern of the modern Italian genetic structure. With the aim of disentangling this pattern and understanding which processes more importantly shaped the distribution of diversity, we have analyzed the uniparentally-inherited markers in ∼900 individuals from an extensive sampling across the Italian peninsula, Sardinia and Sicily. Spatial PCAs and DAPCs revealed a sex-biased pattern indicating different demographic histories for males and females. Besides the genetic outlier position of Sardinians, a North West-South East Y-chromosome structure is found in continental Italy. Such structure is in agreement with recent archeological syntheses indicating two independent and parallel processes of Neolithisation. In addition, date estimates pinpoint the importance of the cultural and demographic events during the late Neolithic and Metal Ages. On the other hand, mitochondrial diversity is distributed more homogeneously in agreement with older population events that might be related to the presence of an Italian Refugium during the last glacial period in Europe.