Genetic History

Geographic distribution of postcodes from our Danish students, their parents and their grandparents

The Genetic History of Denmark

Denmark has played a substantial role in Scandinavian and North European history. The Danish population has strong historical bonds not only with Norway and Sweden, but also with Western and Eastern Europe through a series of invasions, conquests and alliances that led to settlements as far as in the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greenland and Canada. Moreover, within Denmark, industrialisation in the second half of the 19th century led to a considerable migration from the countryside to the cities.

In this project we explore the extent to which recent and more distant historical events left their mark on the genetic structure of the current Danish population. Our ultimate goal is to gain insights into the historical complexity of Denmark from the genetic perspective.

We have run an extensive genetic analysis on the Where Are You From? data set, which consists of approximately 800 high school students from across Denmark. Each student provided a saliva sample for DNA analysis and completed an anonymised online questionnaire on geographical, socioeconomic and basic biometrical data (i.e. height, weight, hair/eye colour). Genotyping was carried out with the 23andMe DNA analysis service based on a >500,000-SNP custom HumanOmniExpress-24 BeadChip from Illumina®.

Our analysis will focus on the genetic structure of the Danish sample through the use of well-known methods such as Principal Component Analysis (PCA), spatial PCA and ancestral component analysis (ADMIXTURE). In order to put our analysis in a broader geographical context, we included publicly available data from adjacent populations that were taken from the POPRES database. Moreover, we are also studying the possible effects of urbanisation on the genetic structure of the Danish population through the geographical distribution of several inbreeding metrics (e.g. maximum and total length of runs of homozygosity).

Recent posts

2015.01.23 | Events, Genetic history

Yorgos to be a discussion leader at an upcoming Gordon Research Seminar

The seminar will take place in Lucca, Italy from 21 to 22 of February

2014.08.14 | Genetic history

Georgios Athanasiadis, new postdoc joining Bioculture!

Georgios (Yorgos) Athanasiadis is a geneticist with an MSc in bioinformatics and a PhD in human population genetics. Yorgos has just started a postdoc at the Centre for Biocultural History with a joint appointment at the Bioinformatics Research Centre.

2014.03.31 | Media coverage, Genetic history

Massive media coverage of DNA project

The conference 31 March presenting the first results of the genotyping of almost 800 Danish high school children received a massive media attention in the national Danish radio, television and print and online media.

2014.02.12 | Media coverage, Genetic history

Ancient Footprints: Commentary by Felix Riede

Bioculture member Dr Felix Riede comments on the widely publicized archaeological discovery of 800,000 year old footprints in England on the Danish science portal

2014.02.07 | Media coverage, Genetic history

What is human nature?

Bioculture member Dr Thomas Mailund talks about the past, present and future of human nature on Danish national radio.

Project collaborators

  • Thomas Mailund (Group Leader)
  • Georgios Athanasiadis
  • Jade Yu Cheng
  • Blas Benito
  • Frank Grønlund Jørgensen
  • Mikkel Heide Schierup
  • Peter C. Kjærgaard