The original settlement of the Island of Crete constitutes the colonization of an empty landscape and provides a unique case study to examine the agriculturedrivenInterestingly, in the previous paper, they found a paucity of Y-haplogroup J in the Lasithi Plateau, compared to Lasithi Prefecture and Heraklion.
dispersal, free from archaeological and genetic signals from previous occupations. The present mtDNAdata indicates a substantial Middle Eastern genetic input within eastern Crete, which is reflected in haplogroups HV and RO (pre-HV), subhaplogroups H4, H6-H8, J1, T1, U1, and U7 as well as haplotypes H031 and H032. Altogether, these signals suggest contributions of about 15% to the Heraklion Prefecture, 33% to the Lasithi Prefecture, and over 49% to the Lasithi Plateau population from the Middle East. The European influence is evident in the overall mtDNA haplogroup profile and in a number of H-specific lineages. This collage of mtDNA imprints (of Middle Eastern and European descent) is reminiscent of the complex migratory and colonization scenarios revealed by archaeological data and previous Y-chromosome analyses. This study also underscores the genetic uniqueness of the Lasithi Plateau population supporting previous Y-chromosome findings proclaiming its role as a mountain refugium. Overall, results from both marker systems (mtDNA and Y chromosome) support the existence of both Paleolithic and Neolithic components in the Cretan population.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology (early view)
Middle Eastern and European mtDNA lineages characterize populations from eastern Crete
Laisel Martinez et al.
Throughout centuries, the geographic location of the island of Crete has been one of the leading factors shaping the composition of its population. Invasions and commercial and cultural ties at various time periods with European, Middle Eastern, and North African civilizations have created a collage of genetic and/or cultural influences from each of these regions within the island. Previous Y-chromosome diversity analyses uncovered pronounced differences in the frequency distribution of haplogroups from a mountain refugium and surrounding lowland populations of eastern Crete. In this study, the current geographic stratification of mtDNA haplotypes in eastern Crete was explored to elucidate potential sources of maternal gene flow. Our work includes a comparative characterization of two lowland collections from the Heraklion and Lasithi Prefectures in eastern Crete, as well as of an isolated mountain population from the Lasithi Plateau, all three previously examined using Y-chromosome markers. In addition to the presence of European mtDNA haplogroups in all three collections, our analyses reveal a significant contribution of Middle Eastern and Central Asian genetic signatures in the island of Crete, and particularly in the two populations from the Lasithi region at the eastern-most portion of the island. Close association between these Cretan groups and the Balkans can also be discerned, which in the case of the Lasithi Plateau corroborates previously uncovered Y-chromosome affiliations with the same geographic region.