March 16, 2006

mtDNA distribution in European Russian populations

Very interesting article:
Russians, who occupy an immense area comparable by its size with the whole Western Europe, are characterized by substantial anthropological and dialectic diversity. Development of the independent Russian nation began in the 9th century A.D., as a result of the integration of Eastern Slavic tribes within the frames of the Old Russian State, and assimilation of Finno-Ugric, Baltic, and Turkic ethnic groups [1]. Subsequent integration and migration processes, as well as an enlargement of the territory of residence, introduced new ethnic elements into the Ancient Russian ethnic group. Numerous investigations of anthropological traits and classical genetic markers provided the idea on the complex genetic structure of Russians, and described the regional differences between different groups, caused by the interaction of newly arrived Slavic tribes with aboriginal populations. Until recently, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diversity of Russians was studied only in some individual populations. At present, this problem attracts growing attention.


Most part of these mitotypes (from 80 to 85%) mark the main European haplogroups, H, I, J, K, T, U, V, W, and X (Table 2). Five of these haplogroups, H, U, J, T, and K, which are most prevalent among the European populations, account for 70 to 78% of the total diversity. In general, haplogroup frequency distribution patterns described in Russian populations were similar to those in European populations [5, 10–14, 16]. However, it should be noted that rather high frequencies (14 to 19.5%) of the mitotypes, not attributed to the haplogoups mentioned, were observed in the Russian populations examined (in Table 2, these mitotypes are defined as “others”). This mitotype group may contain Asian and some minor European haplogroups, the members of macrohaplogroup N.


Finally, the most “specific” Tambov oblast is located at the border between the Eastern European and the steppe complex, the anthropological specificity of which was repeatedly mentioned in a number of studies [1, 20].


Thus, our results point to closeness of the populations from three oblasts (Ivanovo, Ryazan’, and Vologda) to the average regional type, as well as to a substantial difference of the representatives of the two southern oblasts, Orel and Tambov, from this average type. It seems likely that this pattern reflects subdivision of the Russian ethnic area into zones determined by the patterns of the relationships between the Slavs and the local ethnic groups. This subdivision was first described by Rychkov et al. in their study of anthropological and classical genetic markers [8, 21]. According to the view of these authors, this subdivision reflected the movements of the annalistic Slavs from the west eastward. Ivanovo, Ryzan, and Vologda oblasts, defined in the present study as “middle Russian,” are located within the most typical of Russian population “zone of panmixia,” i.e., the region where the forward movement of ancient Slavs proper was replaced by intensive assimilation of the local (in this case, probably, Finno-Ugric) population [8, 21]. At the same time, “genetically specific” populations (Orlov and Tambov) are territorially close to the “cores” of the greatest anthropological specificity of the Russian population, which, according to Rychkov et al., traces back to the annalistic Slavic tribes [8]. Inclusion of more Russian populations in further analysis will probably enable more precise characterization of the observed patterns.
Characteristics of the eastern European complex:
Characteristics: Darkening of the color of the hair and eyes distinguishes this from the White Sea-Baltic group. In the territory of the eastern European plain have been isolated several local combinations, that are differentiated, in essence, by variations in the cephalic index, and by the width and proportions of the face.

Description of the steppe complex:
Steppe Complex. Unfortunately, the population of the Steppe zone has been rather poorly studied by anthropologists. Therefore, the description of the Steppe complex is based only on scanty data regarding some Russian groups inhabiting the midflows of the Dona and Khoper rivers, and a few Turkic-speaking groups dwelling on the right banks of the Volga, most importantly the Mishars. The populations which form this complex are distinguished by mesocephaly, relatively small absolute dimensions of the head and face, partial depigmentation, intermediate development of tretiarry hair cover, intermediate horizontal facial profile and relatively strong nasal protrusion.
See also Hair-color of the Proto-Slavs, Hair-color of the Proto-Slavs (revisited).

Russian Journal of Genetics
Volume 41, Number 9

Mitochondrial DNA Polymorphism in Russian Population form Five Oblasts of the European Part of Russia

I. Yu. Morozova et al.

Abstract New data on mitochondrial DNA polymorphism among Russian population from five oblasts, located within the main ethnic area of Russians, specifically, Ryazan' oblast, Ivanovo oblast, Vologda oblast, Orel oblast, and Tambov oblast (N = 177) are presented. RFLP analysis of the mtDNA coding region showed that most of the mtDNA diversity in the populations examined could be described by main European haplogroups H, U, T, J, K, I, V, W, and X. Haplogroup frequency distribution patterns in the populations of interest were analyzed in comparison with the European and Uralic populations. Based on the haplogroup frequencies, the indices of intraethnic population diversity, Wright's F st statistics, and the values of squared deviation from the mean, as well as genetic distances between Russians and European and Uralic populations were estimated. Analysis of these indices along with the anthropological data provided identification of a number of regional groups within the populations examined, which could either result from the interaction of ancient Slavs with different non-Slavic tribes, or could be caused by the ethnic heterogeneity of the ancient Slavs themselves.


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