Stephanie Marciniak

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania State U.

Grant number

Gr. 9791

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Marciniak, Stephanie (Pennsylvania State U.) "Biological consequences of the agricultural transition: A multi-proxy biomolecular and skeletal investigation of stature across a 9,000-year transect "

The origin and spread of farming in Europe 9,000 years ago led to the emergence of complex urban societies, population increases, and exposure to new diseases. Fascinatingly, despite the positive impacts of agriculture, analyses of human skeletal remains during this period suggest that early agriculturalists may have regularly experienced poor health. My research will combine: i) the analysis of DNA recovered from more than 200 ancient European individuals to estimate the expected genetic height for each, with ii) a measurement of their actual height based on the length of their bones. Genetic variation and environmental forces simultaneously impact the observed variation in human height. Specifically, childhood episodes of nutritional deficiency or disease can result in shorter height than expected based on an individual’s genetic variation. Since modern genomic data have been used to identify many genetic variants affecting height, I will analyze the differences between the predicted (genetic) height and observed (skeletal) height for each prehistoric individual in my study. By comparing per-individual skeletal vs. genetic height before, during and after the agricultural transition, I will explore how gene-environment interactions impacted individual growth outcomes in diverse contexts across prehistory.