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Tissue Antigens. 2003 Apr;61(4):292-9.

Genetic affinities among Mongol ethnic groups and their relationship to Turks.

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  • 1Interbranch HLA Laboratory, Martin-Luther University, Halle, Germany.


The central Asian country Mongolia is home to more than 20 tribes and ethnic groups, some of which are related to neighboring Turkic populations. The main Mongolian people, Khalkha, live in central and eastern Mongolia while the Tsaatan minority lives in the north of the country. The Oold minority is from the western Altai mountain region and live in close proximity with Turkic people. We have typed the HLA-A, -B, -Cw, -DRB1 and -DQB1 loci by PCR-SSP in these three Mongolian populations as well as a sample of the German population. To examine their genetic relationships, a sample of the Turkish population already typed at the HLA-A, -B and -DRB1 loci were used. Altogether five populations were analyzed: Khalkha (n = 100), Tsaatan (n = 72), Oold (n = 52), German (n = 260) and (Anatolian) Turkish (n = 498). Nei's unbiased genetic identity (GI) and genetic distance (GD) were estimated from genotypes using PopGene v1.31, and dendrograms were constructed using phylip. The results suggested a close relationship of the Khalkha to the Tsaatan. The Turks and Germans were equally distant to all three Mongolian populations. These results confirmed the lack of strong genetic relationship between the Mongols and the Turks despite the close relationship of their languages (Altaic group) and shared historical neighborhood. This study has provided useful population data for genetic and anthropologic studies bridging eastern and western populations.

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