According to the ASHG website, poster abstracts from this year's ASHG annual meeting will be revealed to the public in late August. Well, it's already early September and they're nowhere to be seen, so I'm guessing someone over there is running late and the abstracts will make an appearance any day now. However, parts of the poster titles can be seen here, and Mait Metspalu, of the Estonian Biocentre, is listed as the author of "No indication of Khazar genetic ancestry". I'll take a wild guess and say that the full title will look something like "No indication of Khazar genetic ancestry among European Jews". If so, that should be a popular poster session. Update 07/09/2013: All the abstracts are listed here under relevant headings, but it's also possible to search by author, title etc. here. Below is that Khazar abstract I mentioned, and it appears to be a rebuttal to Eran Elhaik's recent claims that Ashkenazi Jews are largely of Khazar origin (for more details on that, see here).
The origin and history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population have long been of great interest. Most studies have concluded that the population derives its genetic ancestry from both Europe and the Middle East, and that it retains high genetic similarity to other Jewish groups such as the Sephardi Jews in Europe and Jewish communities in Northern Africa. It has recently been claimed, however, that a large part of the ancestry of the Ashkenazi population originates with the Khazars, a conglomerate of multi-ethnic, mostly Turkic-speaking tribes who consolidated into a powerful state just north of the Caucasus mountains between ca. 1,400 to 1,000 years ago. It has been difficult to explicitly test for Khazar contributions into Ashkenazi Jews, because it is not clear which extant populations can be used to represent modern descendants of the Khazars, and because the proximity of the southern Caucasus region to the Middle East makes it difficult to attribute any potential signal of Caucasus ancestry to Khazars rather than Middle Eastern populations. Here, we assemble the largest sample set available to date for assessment of Ashkenazi Jewish genetic origins, containing genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism data in 1,774 samples from 107 Jewish and non-Jewish populations that span the possible regions of potential Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry: Europe, the Middle East, and 15 populations from the region historically associated with the Khazar kingdom at its peak. Employing a variety of standard techniques for the analysis of population structure, we find that Ashkenazi Jewish samples share the greatest genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations, and among non-Jewish populations, with groups from Mediterranean Europe and the Middle East, and that they have no particular signal of genetic sharing with populations from the Caucasus. Thus, analysis of the most comprehensive set of Jewish and other Middle Eastern and European populations together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar kingdom does not support the hypothesis of a significant contribution of the elusive Khazars into the gene pool of the Ashkenazi Jews.Metspalu et al., No indication of Khazar genetic ancestry among Ashkenazi Jews, Presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of The American Society of Human Genetics, October 23, 2013 in Boston, MA. Here's another abstract worthy of note. Similar presentations from the same study have already been made at other conferences, and I've seen the PDF poster from one of these, but I can't blog about it until the full paper is published. I will say though, that the results for the Bronze Age Danish sample are interesting.
The very low levels of endogenous DNA remaining in most ancient specimens has precluded the shotgun sequencing of many interesting samples due to cost. For example, ancient DNA (aDNA) libraries derived from bones and teeth often contain <1% endogenous DNA, meaning that the majority of sequencing capacity is taken up by environmental DNA. We will present a method for the targeted enrichment of the endogenous component of human aDNA sequencing libraries. Using biotinylated RNA baits transcribed from genomic DNA libraries, we are able to significantly enrich for human-derived DNA fragments. This approach, which we call whole-genome in-solution capture (WISC), allows us to obtain genome-wide ancestral information from ancient samples with very low endogenous DNA contents. We demonstrate WISC on libraries created from four Iron Age and Bronze Age human teeth from Bulgaria, as well as bone samples from seven Peruvian mummies and a Bronze Age hair sample from Denmark. Prior to capture, shotgun sequencing of these libraries yielded an average of 1.2% of reads mapping to the human genome (including duplicates). After capture, this fraction increased dramatically, with up to 59% of reads mapped to human and folds enrichment ranging from 5X to 139X. Furthermore, we maintained coverage of the majority of fragments present in the pre-capture library. Intersection with the 1000 Genomes Project reference panel yielded an average of 50,723 SNPs (range 3,062-147,243) for the post-capture libraries sequenced with 1 million reads, compared with 13,280 SNPs (range 217-73,266) for the pre-capture libraries, increasing resolution in population genetic analyses. We will also present the results of performing WISC on other aDNA libraries from both archaic human and non-human samples, including ancient domestic dog samples. Our capture approach is flexible and cost-effective, allowing researchers to access aDNA from many specimens that were previously unsuitable for sequencing. Furthermore, this method has applications in other contexts, such as the enrichment of target human DNA in forensic samples.Bustamante et al., Pulling out the 1%: Whole-Genome In-Solution (WISC) capture for the targeted enrichment of ancient DNA sequencing libraries, Presented at the 63rd Annual Meeting of The American Society of Human Genetics, October 25, 2013 in Boston, MA.