February 29, 2012
High levels of Paleolithic Y-chromosome lineages characterize Serbia.
Regueiro M, Rivera L, Damnjanovic T, Lukovic L, Milasin J, Herrera RJ.
Whether present-day European genetic variation and its distribution patterns can be attributed primarily to the initial peopling of Europe by anatomically modern humans during the Paleolithic, or to latter Near Eastern Neolithic input is still the subject of debate. Southeastern Europe has been a crossroads for several cultures since Paleolithic times and the Balkans, specifically, would have been part of the route used by Neolithic farmers to enter Europe. Given its geographic location in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula at the intersection of Central and Southeastern Europe, Serbia represents a key geographical location that may provide insight to elucidate the interactions between indigenous Paleolithic people and agricultural colonists from the Fertile Crescent. In this study, we examine, for the first time, the Y-chromosome constitution of the general Serbian population. A total of 103 individuals were sampled and their DNA analyzed for 104 Y-chromosome bi-allelic markers and 17 associated STR loci. Our results indicate that approximately 58% of Serbian Y-chromosomes (I1-M253, I2a-P37.2, R1a1a-M198) belong to lineages believed to be pre-Neolithic. On the other hand, the signature of putative Near Eastern Neolithic lineages, including E1b1b1a1-M78, G2a-P15, J1-M267 and J2-M172 and R1b1a2-M269 accounts for 39% of the Y-chromosome. Furthermore, an examination of the distribution of Y-chromosome filiations in Europe indicates extreme levels of Paleolithic lineages in a region encompassing Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, possibly the result of Neolithic migrations encroaching on Paleolithic populations against the Adriatic Sea.