December 23, 2005

Y-chromosomes and mtDNA from the Balkans

An important new study on the Balkans, which includes a Greek sample from Thrace, as well as samples from Aromun (Vlach) populations.


It is unfortunate that this study did not study the distribution of deep clades of the Y-chromosomal phylogeny, e.g., in haplogroups J, I, and K*(xP). Nonetheless, the study furthers our understanding of the Y-chromosomal population of Balkan populations, by sampling populations from Albania, the FYRO Macedonia, Romania, and Northeastern Greece, including Vlach (Aromun) speakers.

The shallow depth of the typed markers did not allow the detection of structure. Most haplogroup frequencies occurred in similar frequencies with few significant differences between populations.

Aromuns appear to have a higher frequency overall of haplogroup R1b, which would definitely suggest "Roman" connections, which the authors discount on the basis of searches which they conducted in yhrd. Ultimately, their arguments are not very convincing, since yhrd only allows for exact matches, and any "Roman" contribution to the Aromuns is two thousand years old.

The inclusion of almost all E3b1-M78 chromosomes in the alpha-cluster which is typical of the Balkans was confirmed once again.

R1a1 chromosomes did not exhibit a star-like phylogeny; this may indicate heterogeneity in the origin of R1a1 chromosomes.

Also of interest is the detection of foreign elements in the Balkan population. Such elements were not found in Greeks, but were found occasionally in the form of haplogroups E1 and H in some of the others.

This study seems to agree broadly with my previous observations about the co-occurrence of haplogroups J2 and R1b in the Balkans; these two haplogroups are frequent in most populations, contrasting with most of the Slavs from the western Balkans that have low frequencies.

Annals of Human Genetics (Online Early)

Paternal and maternal lineages in the Balkans show a homogeneous landscape over linguistic barriers, except for the isolated Aromuns

E. Bosch et al.


The Balkan Peninsula is a complex cultural mosaic comprising populations speaking languages from several branches of the Indo-European family and Altaic, as well as culturally-defined minorities such as the Aromuns who speak a Romance language. The current cultural and linguistic landscape is a palimpsest in which different peoples have contributed their cultures in a historical succession. We have sought to find any evidence of genetic stratification related to those cultural layers by typing both mtDNA and Y chromosomes, in Albanians, Romanians, Macedonians, Greeks, and five Aromun populations. We have paid special attention to the Aromuns, and sought to test genetically various hypotheses on their origins.

MtDNA and Y-chromosome haplogroup frequencies in the Balkans were found to be similar to those elsewhere in Europe. MtDNA sequences and Y-chromosome STR haplotypes revealed decreased variation in some Aromun populations. Variation within Aromun populations was the primary source of genetic differentiation. Y-chromosome haplotypes tended to be shared across Aromuns, but not across non-Aromun populations. These results point to a possible common origin of the Aromuns, with drift acting to differentiate the separate Aromun communities. The homogeneity of Balkan populations prevented testing for the origin of the Aromuns, although a significant Roman contribution can be ruled out.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dienekes,
I'm right now in a discussion about the origin of the aromun(vlach)people. Some greeks claim that aromuns are greeks, but I can not agree with this position. I agree that the origins of aromun people are at the Balkans, but I do not see tham as greeks, I think they are of illyrian and thracian descent. What would you say? Can the genetic genealogy give us a clear answer in this case?