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Thread: Differentiation and Genetic Position of Slavs Among Eurasian Ethnic Groups As Inferred from Variation in Mitochondrial DNA

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    Differentiation and Genetic Position of Slavs Among Eurasian Ethnic Groups As Inferred from Variation in Mitochondrial DNA

    By B. A. Malyarchuk

    (1) The distribution of identical and similar (phylogenetically related) types of hypervariable segment 1 (HVS1) of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was studied in human populations belonging to three Slavonic groups and nine ethnogeographic groups of Eurasia (total sample size 2772 people).

    The results testified to a common origin of West, South, and East Slavs and revealed a central place of West Slavs among all Slavonic ethnic groups. Mixing was shown to play a substantial role in the formation of specific features of all three Slavonic gene pools.

    The mitochondrial gene pools of the Slavonic ethnic groups proved to preserve features suggesting a common ancestor for these and South European populations (especially those of the Balkan Peninsula).

    (2) West Slavs occupy the central position among all Slavonic ethnic groups. The West Slavonic gene pool has the maximum number of rare common and similar mtDNA types as compared with the gene pools of Russians and Bulgarians, while these two Slavonic ethnic groups are only to an extent genetically similar to each other.

    (3) Interethnic interactions (mixing and assimilation) have played a substantial role in the formation of the genetic portrait of various Slavonic groups. West Slavs show a high genetic similarity to German ethnic groups (Germans, Austrians); Bulgarians are similar to the ethnic groups of the Balkan Peninsula; and Russians are similar to the Finno-Ugric ethnic groups of
    Northern and Eastern Europe. The results obtained allow the following conclusions.

    (4) The gene pools of all Slavonic ethnic groups show an appreciable similarity to the gene pools of South European ethnic groups and especially to the ethnic groups of the Balkan Peninsula. In addition, a substantial fraction of rare and unique mtDNA types found in the populations of Italy and Mediterranean islands have analogs in the gene pools of West and East Slavs.
    This testifies to a hypothesis that ancestors of modern Slavs originally diverged from South European populations to form an individual branch.


    From the anthropological viewpoint, the high genetic similarity between Russians and West Slavs can be explained on the basis of a hypothesis that the major anthropological type was brought to the Russian Plain from the west and the southwest by East Slavonic ethnic groups [21].

    In addition, the above genetic data provide evidence in favor of the concept that the geneticfeatures of modern Russians are determined by mixing of Slavs and the Finno-Ugric populations of Eastern Europe. Detection of common mtDNA types in the gene pools of Russians and Iranians suggests an ancient connection between Slavs and Scythian populations of the steppe zone of Eastern Europe (which is supported by the anthropological, linguistic, and archeological data [1-3, 20].

    Conclusion (4) that the Slavonic mitochondrial gene pool is similar to that of the Balkan populations is supported by linguistic data, as proto-Slavonic dialects are considered connected with the southeastern group of Indo-European dialects ([1], pp. 81-82).

    Note also that the data on mtDNA variation in the European populations are in general agreement with data on polymorphism of the Y chromosome [22].

    As has been shown by now, a high similarity of the gene pools of West and East Slavs is evident from the distribution of paternal lines in the European populations. First of all, this concerns the distribution of line 92R7TSRY1532A
    in the Slavonic gene pools.

    The difference in gene pool between individual Slavonic groups have been attributed by their mixing with neighbors. For instance, a high (11.6% on average) frequency of line TatC in East Slavs can be explained by their intense contacts with Finno-Ugric European populations, which display the maximum (36% on average) frequency of this marker.

    It is clear that a complex approach utilizing data of molecular genetics and
    humanities is necessary for further analysis of the origin and differentiation of Slavonic ethnic groups.

    Source: Russian Journal of Genetics 37 (12): 1437-1443, December 2001

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    (2) West Slavs occupy the central position among all Slavonic ethnic groups. The West Slavonic gene pool has the maximum number of rare common and similar mtDNA types as compared with the gene pools of Russians and Bulgarians, while these two Slavonic ethnic groups are only to an extent genetically similar to each other.
    This would seem to fit with the theory that Poland, not Russia/Ukraine, is the homeland of the proto-Slavs. There's a 2009 study of R1a showing one of it's main subclades likely originating in Poland:

    http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v...g2009194a.html

    There has also been in recent years archaeological and genetic evidence of continuity between the Iron Age and present in Greater Poland and that area. Doesn't necessarily mean linguistic continuity but it could indicate that.

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