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Friday, June 15, 2012

Ancient mtDNA from the Dnieper-Donets cultural complex

A new paper at the Journal of Human Genetics reports on the mtDNA gene pool of the Dnieper-Donets (DD) cultural complex of Neolithic Ukraine. The authors were able to confirm the presence of the following haplogroups in the ancient remains from the Mariupol-type sites along the Dnieper: two H, two C, one C4a2, one U5a1a and one U3. So, three out of the seven samples belonged to haplogroup C, which is a Siberian-specific marker.

We've already had a sneak peek at these results thanks to a thesis abstract published last year by the Grand Valley State University (see here). The presence of mtDNA C among the DD remains suggests that the North Pontic steppe was formerly inhabited by genetically heterogeneous groups, and part of their ancestry came from Siberia.

The fact that Siberian-specific mtDNA lineages are very rare in Ukraine today, means that something must have happened there since the Bronze Age that basically wiped them out.

Alexey G Nikitin et al., Mitochondrial haplogroup C in ancient mitochondrial DNA from Ukraine extends the presence of East Eurasian genetic lineages in Neolithic Central and Eastern Europe, Journal of Human Genetics, advance online publication, 7 June 2012; doi:10.1038/jhg.2012.69

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