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Sci Rep. 2017 May 16;7(1):1984. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-01802-4.

Ancient and recent admixture layers in Sicily and Southern Italy trace multiple migration routes along the Mediterranean.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. stefania.sarno2@unibo.it.
2
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
3
Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia.
4
Department of Biology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.
5
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, IMF-CSIC, Spanish National Research Council, Barcelona, Spain.
6
Department of Humanities, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.
7
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.
8
Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, Ravenna, Italy.
9
Department of Biology, University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania.
10
Department of Biological, Chemical, and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy.
11
National Geographic Society, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.
12
Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. donata.luiselli@unibo.it.

Abstract

The Mediterranean shores stretching between Sicily, Southern Italy and the Southern Balkans witnessed a long series of migration processes and cultural exchanges. Accordingly, present-day population diversity is composed by multiple genetic layers, which make the deciphering of different ancestral and historical contributes particularly challenging. We address this issue by genotyping 511 samples from 23 populations of Sicily, Southern Italy, Greece and Albania with the Illumina GenoChip Array, also including new samples from Albanian- and Greek-speaking ethno-linguistic minorities of Southern Italy. Our results reveal a shared Mediterranean genetic continuity, extending from Sicily to Cyprus, where Southern Italian populations appear genetically closer to Greek-speaking islands than to continental Greece. Besides a predominant Neolithic background, we identify traces of Post-Neolithic Levantine- and Caucasus-related ancestries, compatible with maritime Bronze-Age migrations. We argue that these results may have important implications in the cultural history of Europe, such as in the diffusion of some Indo-European languages. Instead, recent historical expansions from North-Eastern Europe account for the observed differentiation of present-day continental Southern Balkan groups. Patterns of IBD-sharing directly reconnect Albanian-speaking Arbereshe with a recent Balkan-source origin, while Greek-speaking communities of Southern Italy cluster with their Italian-speaking neighbours suggesting a long-term history of presence in Southern Italy.

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