Chinese scientists have revealed that the ancient population who lived on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau 5,200 years ago contributed genetic inheritance to modern Tibetans.
In the study recently published online in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the scientists successfully sequenced 67 complete mitochondrial DNA genomes of humans who lived on the plateau 5,200 to 300 years ago.
Previous studies have shown that the introduction of barley agriculture dating back to 3,600 years ago was crucial to human's permanent settlement on the plateau. But it was still unknown what genetic contribution the ancient Tibetans made to the present-day Tibetans.
The researchers divided the genomes into two groups according to living region and altitude, with one group in high altitude areas and the other in low altitude on the northeast edge of the plateau.
The results showed genetic connection between the two groups and that both of the two groups have a certain degree of genetic connection with modern Tibetans.
Other human groups who lived on the plateau earlier may have also contributed genetic inheritance to present-day Tibetans, said the study.