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Earliest evidence of Italians’ extraordinary genetic diversity dates back to 19,000 years ago

In Europe, Italians have the highest genetic diversity.

The gradient of their genetic variability, scattered all over the peninsula, encloses on a small scale the whole genetic variance between southern and continental Europeans.

This amazing diversity started to accumulate soon after the Late Glacial Maximum, which ended approximately 19,000 years ago.

This is what researchers of the University of Bologna have reported in a paper published in BMC Biology. It is the first time that researchers have traced Italians’ genetic history.

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Results also show that there are genetic peculiarities characterizing people living in the north and south of Italy that evolved in response to different environments.

These peculiarities contribute to reducing the risk of kidney inflammation and skin cancers, and the risk of diabetes and obesity, favoring a longer lifespan.

“Gaining an understanding of the evolutionary history of the ancestors of Italians allows us to better grasp the demographic processes and those of environmental interactions that shaped the complex mosaic of ancestry components of today’s European populations,” explains Marco Sazzini, one of the principal investigators of this study and professor of molecular anthropology at the University of Bologna.

“This investigation provides valuable information in order to […]

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