October 18, 2005

400-year old Yakut DNA

Autosomal STRs and mtDNA HVSI were studied in five Yakut individuals. Interestingly, using the autosomal markers the researchers could prove or exclude the possibility of familial relationships between some of them.

The Yakut live in NE Siberia, and are believed to have originated in Central Asia. Interestingly, the single Caucasoid mtDNA sequence in Yakuts could be plausibly of Central Asian origin, but their Mongoloid sequences are unlike those of their Siberian neighbors. The conclusions of the study:
The molecular data obtained from the archaeological samples studied bring new elements to the understanding of the origin and evolution of the Yakut population, as well as the kinship systems and social structures of the ancient Yakut population. Our results demonstrated the diversity of the sepulchral organization of the Quaternary terrace burial sites, which seem to be according to the degree of social or genetic kinship of the subjects. Moreover, the comparison of genetic data obtained
from ancient Yakut samples with Eurasian populations revealed 1) the presence of maternal lineages specific to the Yakut population; 2) the relative continuity of some of them, which could be considered as ‘‘founder haplotypes;’’ and 3) no support for the putative Central Asian origin of these ancient samples (except with the HV1 sequence of West Eurasian origin). Nevertheless, these preliminary results are inevitably constrained by the sample size, and new archaeological samples could provide more comprehensive insights into Yakut population history and validate/invalidate the hypotheses previously put forward.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Early view)

Molecular Genetic Analysis of 400-Year-Old Human Remains Found in Two Yakut Burial Sites

François-Xavier Ricaut et al.


The excavation of five frozen graves at the Sytygane Syhe and Istekh-Myrane burial sites (dated at 400 years old) in central Yakutia revealed five human skeletons belonging to the Yakut population. To investigate the origin and evolution of the Yakut population as well as the kinship system between individuals buried in these two sites, DNA was extracted from bone samples and analyzed by autosomal short tandem repeats (STRs) and by sequencing hypervariable region I (HV1) of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region. The results showed a diversity of sepulchral organizations linked probably to the social or genetic background of the subjects. Comparison of STR profiles, mitochondrial haplotypes, and haplogroups with data from Eurasian populations indicated affinities with Asian populations and suggested a relative specificity and continuity of part of the Yakut mitochondrial gene pool during the last five centuries. Moreover, our results did not support a Central Asian (with the exception of maternal lineage of West Eurasian origin) or Siberian origin of the maternal lineages of these ancient Yakut subjects, implying an ethnogenesis of the Yakut population probably more complex than previously proposed.


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