CORDIS - EU research results

Adaptation and Demographic Processes in Ukraine from the Mesolithic to the Present

Project description

Genetic variation in Ukraine across millennia

Migration, admixture and natural selection have played a central role in shaping human genetic diversity. As part of the Eurasian Steppe, southern Ukraine experienced multiple migrations across the millennia, from the Yamnaya pastoralists to Slavic Cossacks. The EU-funded UkrAD project will study how the fusion of Steppe and early farmer ancestry (one of the central ancestry components in Europe) was formed and how other migration processes influenced genetic variation in Ukraine. The project will also identify significant signals of selection and their ecological drivers from newly generated genomic data from 150 people. Finally, UkrAD will investigate hypotheses regarding which ecological factors drove selection on alleles involved in infectious disease resistance through influencing sanitation and pathogen transmission.


Migration, admixture and natural selection have been shaping human societies and genomes through time. Southern Ukraine, as part of the Eurasian Steppe, has been in the path of several migrating groups, e.g. Yamnaya Steppe pastoralists, mixed-origin Cimmerians and Scythians, Gothic Chernyakhov people, Iranian Alans, Golden Horde Mongols, Turkic Nogais, Slavic Cossacks. This fellowship aims to study how one of the main ancestry components in Europe, the fusion of Steppe and early farmer ancestry, formed and how other migration processes shaped genetic variation in Ukraine. Furthermore, we aim to identify important signals of selection (e.g. diet- and immunity-related) and their ecological drivers. To that end, genomic data of 150 individuals will be generated. The ancestry composition of the individuals will be characterized in the context of modern and ancient samples, and interpreted in the context of archaeological and historical information. A novel likelihood-based method will be used to test hypotheses of which ecological factors, such as urbanization, higher population density, mobility, zoonoses, famine and wider contact networks, have been important in driving selection on alleles related to infectious disease resistance, through influencing sanitation and pathogen transmission. The researcher will mature to be independent thanks to developing excisting and acquiring new skills through training received from the host and the secondment host. She will further her skills in her current research area of demographic history inference and will expand into a new field – studying natural selection. Furthermore, she will develop transferable skills by conceiving and managing a project, disseminating the project results through journal articles, conference presentations etc., communicating scientific results to students, science enthusiasts and the general public, networking with people from the host/secondment team and external collaborators, supervising students.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — West Camden and City of London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76