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 "

STEPHANIE MARCINIAK, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, was awarded a grant in April 2019 to aid research on ‘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 12,000 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. This project combines paleogenomic and skeletal data to examine the impact of genetic variation and environmental forces on human height variation as well as health across the shift to farming. By comparing the differences between genetic contributions to height and observed skeletal height for each individual before, during, and after the agricultural transition, this project provides a framework to explore how gene-environment interactions impacted individual growth outcomes in diverse contexts. The findings of the project thus far reveal that during the initial agricultural transition, individuals were on average, skeletally shorter than expected based genetic contributions and that stature positively rebounded afterwards. There is also a potential influence of childhood stress on height, particularly during the early stages of the shift to farming. Further paleogenomic analyses, which will reveal the interactions between skeletal stature, genetic variation, and health across Europe, are currently underway.