Genetic Chaos

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Analysis of Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in Yakuts

To study the mitochondrial gene pool structure in Yakuts, polymorphism of mtDNA hypervariable segment I (16,024–16,390) was analyzed in 191 people sampled from the indigenous population of the Sakha Republic. In total, 67 haplotypes of 14 haplogroups were detected. Most (91.6%) haplotypes belonged to haplogroups A, B, C, D, F, G, M*, and Y, which are specific for East Eurasian ethnic groups; 8.4% haplotypes represented Caucasian haplogroups H, HV1, J, T, U, and W. A high frequency of mtDNA types belonging to Asian supercluster M was peculiar for Yakuts: mtDNA types belonging to haplogroup C, D, or G and undifferentiated mtDNA types of haplogroup M (M*) accounted for 81% of all haplotypes. The highest diversity was observed for haplogroups C and D, which comprised respectively 22 (44%) and 18 (30%) haplotypes. Yakuts showed the lowest genetic diversity (H= 0.964) among all Turkic ethnic groups. Phylogenetic analysis testified to common genetic substrate of Yakuts, Mongols, and Central Asian (Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uighur) populations. Yakuts proved to share 21 (55.5%) mtDNA haplotypes with the Central Asian ethnic groups and Mongols. Comparisons with modern Paleoasian populations (Chukcha, Itelmen, Koryaks) revealed three (8.9%) haplotypes common for Yakuts and Koryaks. The results of mtDNA analysis disagree with the hypothesis of an appreciable Paleoasian contribution to the modern Yakut gene pool.

PDF file

Mitochondrial DNA evidence for admixed origins of central Siberian populations

The Yakuts of northeastern Siberia are a Turkic-speaking population of horse- and cattle-breeders surrounded by Tungusic-speaking reindeer-herders and hunter-gatherers. Archaeological and ethnohistorical data suggest that Yakuts stem from a common ancestral population with the Buryats living near Lake Baikal. To address this hypothesis, we obtained sequences of the first hypervariable segment (HV1) of the mitochondrial DNA control region from Yakuts and Buryats and compared these with sequences from other Eurasian populations. The mtDNA results show that the Buryats have close affinities with both Central Asian Turkic groups and Mongols, while the Yakuts have close affinities with northeastern Siberian, Tungusic-speaking Evenks and south Siberian, Turkic-speaking Tuvans. This different ancestry of the Yakuts and the Tuvans (compared with other Turkic-speaking groups) most likely reflects extensive admixture that occurred between Turkic-speaking steppe groups and Evenks as the former migrated into Siberia. Moreover, the Yakuts are unique among Siberian populations in having a high number of haplotypes shared exclusively with Europeans, suggesting, contrary to the historical record, that occasionally Yakut men took Russian women as wives.

PDF file

Investigating the effects of prehistoric migrations in Siberia: genetic variation and the origins of Yakuts

The Yakuts (also known as Sakha), Turkic-speaking cattle- and horse-breeders, inhabit a vast territory in Central and northeastern Siberia. On the basis of the archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic evidence, they are assumed to have migrated north from their original area of settlement in the vicinity of Lake Baykal in South Siberia under the pressure of the Mongol expansion during the thirteenth to fifteenth century AD. During their initial migration and subsequent expansion, the ancestors of the Yakuts settled in the territory originally occupied by Tungusic- and Uralic-speaking reindeer-herders and hunters. In this paper we use mtDNA and Y-chromosomal analyses to elucidate whether the Yakut immigration and expansion was accompanied by admixture with the indigenous populations of their new area of settlement or whether the Yakuts displaced the original inhabitants without intermarriage. The mtDNA results show a very close aYnity of the Yakuts with Central Asian and South Siberian groups, which conWrms their southern origin. There is no conclusive evidence for admixture with indigenous populations, though a small amount cannot be excluded on the basis of the mtDNA data alone. The Y-chromosomal results confirm previous findings of a very strong bottleneck in the Yakuts, the age of which is in good accordance with the hypothesis that the Yakuts migrated north under Mongol pressure. Furthermore, the genetic results show that the Yakuts are a very homogenous population, notwithstanding their current spread over a very large territory. This conWrms the historical accounts that they spread over their current area of settlement fairly recently.

PDF file