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Coll Antropol. 2009 Dec;33(4):1323-8.

Mitochondrial DNA heritage of Cres Islanders--example of Croatian genetic outliers.

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  • 1Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb, Croatia.


Diversity of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages of the Island of Cres was determined by high-resolution phylogenetic analysis on a sample of 119 adult unrelated individuals from eight settlements. The composition of mtDNA pool of this Island population is in contrast with other Croatian and European populations. The analysis revealed the highest frequency of haplogroup U (29.4%) with the predominance of one single lineage of subhaplogroup U2e (20.2%). Haplogroup H is the second most prevalent one with only 27.7%. Other very interesting features of contemporary Island population are extremely low frequency of haplogroup J (only 0.84%), and much higher frequency of haplogroup W (12.6%) comparing to other Croatian and European populations. Especially interesting finding is a strikingly higher frequency of haplogroup N1a (9.24%) presented with African/south Asian branch almost absent in Europeans, while its European sister-branch, proved to be highly prevalent among Neolithic farmers, is present in contemporary Europeans with only 0.2%. Haplotype analysis revealed that only five mtDNA lineages account for almost 50% of maternal genetic heritage of this island and they present supposed founder lineages. All presented findings confirm that genetic drift, especially founder effect, has played significant role in shaping genetic composition of the isolated population of the Island of Cres. Due to presented data contemporary population of Cres Island can be considered as genetic "outlier" among Croatian populations.

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