Uniparental Genetic Heritage of Belarusians: Encounter of Rare Middle Eastern Matrilineages with a Central European Mitochondrial DNA Pool

Alena Kushniarevich, Larysa Sivitskaya, Nina Danilenko, Tadeush Novogrodskii, Iosif Tsybovsky, Anna Kiseleva, Svetlana Kotova, Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Ene Metspalu, Hovhannes Sahakyan, Ardeshir Bahmanimehr, Maere Reidla, Siiri Rootsi, Jüri Parik, Tuuli Reisberg, Alessandro Achilli, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani, Francesca Gandini, Anna Olivieri, Doron M. BeharAntonio Torroni, Oleg Davydenko, Richard Villems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the nine and half million people inhabiting the Republic of Belarus. Belarusians together with Ukrainians and Russians represent the East Slavic linguistic group, largest both in numbers and territory, inhabiting East Europe alongside Baltic-, Finno-Permic- and Turkic-speaking people. Till date, only a limited number of low resolution genetic studies have been performed on this population. Therefore, with the phylogeographic analysis of 565 Y-chromosomes and 267 mitochondrial DNAs from six well covered geographic sub-regions of Belarus we strove to complement the existing genetic profile of eastern Europeans. Our results reveal that around 80% of the paternal Belarusian gene pool is composed of R1a, I2a and N1c Y-chromosome haplogroups - a profile which is very similar to the two other eastern European populations - Ukrainians and Russians. The maternal Belarusian gene pool encompasses a full range of West Eurasian haplogroups and agrees well with the genetic structure of central-east European populations. Our data attest that latitudinal gradients characterize the variation of the uniparentally transmitted gene pools of modern Belarusians. In particular, the Y-chromosome reflects movements of people in central-east Europe, starting probably as early as the beginning of the Holocene. Furthermore, the matrilineal legacy of Belarusians retains two rare mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, N1a3 and N3, whose phylogeographies were explored in detail after de novo sequencing of 20 and 13 complete mitogenomes, respectively, from all over Eurasia. Our phylogeographic analyses reveal that two mitochondrial DNA lineages, N3 and N1a3, both of Middle Eastern origin, might mark distinct events of matrilineal gene flow to Europe: during the mid-Holocene period and around the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere66499
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS One
Volume8
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

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    Kushniarevich, A., Sivitskaya, L., Danilenko, N., Novogrodskii, T., Tsybovsky, I., Kiseleva, A., Kotova, S., Chaubey, G., Metspalu, E., Sahakyan, H., Bahmanimehr, A., Reidla, M., Rootsi, S., Parik, J., Reisberg, T., Achilli, A., Hooshiar Kashani, B., Gandini, F., Olivieri, A., ... Villems, R. (2013). Uniparental Genetic Heritage of Belarusians: Encounter of Rare Middle Eastern Matrilineages with a Central European Mitochondrial DNA Pool. PLoS One, 8(6), 1-14. [e66499]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066499