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Free Content Paternal and maternal lineages in the Balkans show a homogeneous landscape over linguistic barriers, except for the isolated Aromuns

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Summary

The Balkan Peninsula is a complex cultural mosaic comprising populations speaking languages from several branches of the Indo-European family and Altaic, as well as culturally-defined minorities such as the Aromuns who speak a Romance language. The current cultural and linguistic landscape is a palimpsest in which different peoples have contributed their cultures in a historical succession. We have sought to find any evidence of genetic stratification related to those cultural layers by typing both mtDNA and Y chromosomes, in Albanians, Romanians, Macedonians, Greeks, and five Aromun populations. We have paid special attention to the Aromuns, and sought to test genetically various hypotheses on their origins.

MtDNA and Y-chromosome haplogroup frequencies in the Balkans were found to be similar to those elsewhere in Europe. MtDNA sequences and Y-chromosome STR haplotypes revealed decreased variation in some Aromun populations. Variation within Aromun populations was the primary source of genetic differentiation. Y-chromosome haplotypes tended to be shared across Aromuns, but not across non-Aromun populations. These results point to a possible common origin of the Aromuns, with drift acting to differentiate the separate Aromun communities. The homogeneity of Balkan populations prevented testing for the origin of the Aromuns, although a significant Roman contribution can be ruled out.
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Keywords: Balkan Peninsula; Y chromosome; genetic variation; mitochondrial DNA; population genetics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Unitat de Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain 2: Institute of Human Genetics and Anthropology, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany 3: Institute of Legal Medicine, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany 4: Institute of Physiology, Medical Faculty Skopje, Republic of Macedonia 5: Faculty of Natural Science, University Tirana, Albania 6: Laboratory of Anthropology, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece 7: University Ovidius, Constanta, Romania 8: Institute of Human Genetics and Anthropology, University of Ulm, Germany

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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