November 29, 2006

The Gagauz of Moldova

Annals of Human Genetics (Online Early)

The Gagauz, a Linguistic Enclave, are not a Genetic Isolate

Ivan Nasidze et al.


The Gagauz are a Turkic-speaking group that migrated from Turkey to their present location in the southern part of the Republic of Moldova about 150 years ago. Surrounded by Indo-European-speaking populations, they thus form a linguistic enclave, which raises the following question: to what extent have they remained in genetic isolation from their geographic neighbours? Analyses of mtDNA and Y chromosome variation indicate that despite their linguistic differences, the Gagauz have admixed extensively with neighbouring groups. Our data suggest that there has been more mtDNA than Y chromosome admixture, in keeping with the patrilocal nature of these groups. Moreover, when compared with another linguistic enclave, the Kalmyks there appears to be a correlation between the amount of genetic admixture and the amount of linguistic influence that these two linguistic enclaves have experienced from neighbouring groups.


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