Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Variation in the Caucasus

Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Variation in the Caucasus

We have analyzed mtDNA HVI sequences and Y chromosome haplogroups based on 11 binary markers in 371 individuals, from 11 populations in the Caucasus and the neighbouring countries of Turkey and Iran. Y chromosome haplogroup diversity in the Caucasus was almost as high as in Central Asia and the Near East, and significantly higher than in Europe. More than 27% of the variance in Y-haplogroups can be attributed to differences between populations, whereas mtDNA showed much lower heterogeneity between populations (less then 5%), suggesting a strong influence of patrilocal social structure. Several groups from the highland region of the Caucasus exhibited low diversity and high differentiation for either or both genetic systems, reflecting enhanced genetic drift in these small, isolated populations. Overall, the Caucasus groups showed greater similarity with West Asian than with European groups for both genetic systems, although this similarity was much more pronounced for the Y chromosome than for mtDNA, suggesting that male-mediated migrations from West Asia have influenced the genetic structure of Caucasus populations.

An older paper, but one I hadn’t taken a look at.

Unfortunately there isn’t as much detail on the mt DNA.

From one long ago read text, I can remember that one North Caucasus late neolithic site had a tendency to have Mediterranean male crania with the more robust local females. This could support that  population movements into the area from the Iran/Turkey area (birthplace of the Neolithic) may have been male lead, which might give a clue as to how each the Caucasus population has such a heterogenous Y chromosome profile.


3 responses to “Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Variation in the Caucasus

  1. It is telling. The biases of the researchers. What is European, what is Middle Eastern, what is Caucasus in origin. R1a1 is not European in origin, some subclades may be, but the parent is not. Its origin point is closer to the Caucasus than Europe. J1, J2 and I all originated in the near vicinity, the Zagros Mountain zones, Fertile Cresent, East Anatolia. Again closer to the Caucasus region than Europe. I think it quite telling also that J1, a high frequency haplogroup in the North Caucasus, specifically Daghestan, yet not tested, yet its frequency compares with that found in some Arab speaking groups. It is odd how haplogroups that originated not far from the eastern Mediterranean section of the Mediterranean Basin is considered alien and foreign to Europe whereas haplogroups specifically R1a1 and R1b both of which have an Central Asian, west Siberian origin are considered European. Both entered Europe after the Neolithic.

    The idea that the Caucasus was seeded by men from the Middle East is Eurocentric bias. It is more likely that men from the Caucasus zone seeded the Middle East particularly when J1, J2 and G are considered. Tofanelli’s recent study on J1 showed a converse relationship between frequency and greater genetic variability. Similarly with R1b, genetic variability is greater away from its greatest frequency. Armenian R1b is more genetically diverse than Irish R1b.

    • The idea that the Caucasus was seeded by men from the Middle East is Eurocentric bias

      Like I said, I do recall reading this put forward as a possible scenario based on the crania too.

  2. My fatherside is from Caucasus(North-Eastern Turkey/Artvin and Georgia/Tbilisi and Akhiska) but I have haplogroup “I” in Y-DNA…

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