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Eur J Hum Genet. 2011 Feb;19(2):216-23. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2010.153. Epub 2010 Sep 8.

In the heartland of Eurasia: the multilocus genetic landscape of Central Asian populations.

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  • 1Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Université Paris 7, UMR 7206, Éco-Anthropologie et Ethnobiologie, Paris, France.

Abstract

Located in the Eurasian heartland, Central Asia has played a major role in both the early spread of modern humans out of Africa and the more recent settlements of differentiated populations across Eurasia. A detailed knowledge of the peopling in this vast region would therefore greatly improve our understanding of range expansions, colonizations and recurrent migrations, including the impact of the historical expansion of eastern nomadic groups that occurred in Central Asia. However, despite its presumable importance, little is known about the level and the distribution of genetic variation in this region. We genotyped 26 Indo-Iranian- and Turkic-speaking populations, belonging to six different ethnic groups, at 27 autosomal microsatellite loci. The analysis of genetic variation reveals that Central Asian diversity is mainly shaped by linguistic affiliation, with Turkic-speaking populations forming a cluster more closely related to East-Asian populations and Indo-Iranian speakers forming a cluster closer to Western Eurasians. The scattered position of Uzbeks across Turkic- and Indo-Iranian-speaking populations may reflect their origins from the union of different tribes. We propose that the complex genetic landscape of Central Asian populations results from the movements of eastern, Turkic-speaking groups during historical times, into a long-lasting group of settled populations, which may be represented nowadays by Tajiks and Turkmen. Contrary to what is generally thought, our results suggest that the recurrent expansions of eastern nomadic groups did not result in the complete replacement of local populations, but rather into partial admixture.

PMID:
20823912
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3025785
Free PMC Article

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