June 11, 2005

Y chromosomes in Southeastern Europe

An important new paper has looked at Y chromosomal variation in Southeastern Europe, and in particular in Slavs. I will comment on this paper later on.

Molecular Biology and Evolution (advance access)

High-Resolution Phylogenetic Analysis of Southeastern Europe (SEE) Traces Major Episodes of Paternal Gene Flow Among Slavic Populations

Marijana Pericic et al.

The extent and nature of SEE paternal genetic contribution to European genetic landscape was explored based on a high-resolution Y chromosome analysis involving 681 males from 7 populations in the region. Paternal lineages present in SEE were compared with previously published data from 81 western Eurasian populations and 5,017 Y chromosome samples. The finding that five major haplogroups (E3b1, I1b* (xM26), J2, R1a, R1b) comprise more than 70% of SEE total genetic variation is consistent with the typical European Y chromosome gene pool. However, distribution of major Y chromosomal lineages and estimated expansion signals clarify the specific role of this region in structuring of European, and particularly, Slavic paternal genetic heritage. Contemporary Slavic paternal gene pool, mostly characterized by the predominance of R1a and I1b* (xM26), and scarcity of E3b1 lineages, is a result of two major prehistoric gene flows with opposite directions: the post-LGM R1a expansion from east to west, the YD-Holocene I1b* (xM26) diffusion out of SEE in addition to subsequent R1a and I1b* (xM26) putative gene flows between eastern and southeastern Europe and a rather weak extent of E3b1 diffusion towards regions nowadays occupied by Slavic speaking populations.


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