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Genome Biol. 2018 Sep 21;19(1):139. doi: 10.1186/s13059-018-1522-1.

Genes reveal traces of common recent demographic history for most of the Uralic-speaking populations.

Author information

1
Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Riia 23b, 51010, Tartu, Estonia. ktambets@ebc.ee.
2
Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Riia 23b, 51010, Tartu, Estonia.
3
Ufa Scientific Center of RAS, Ufa, 450054, Russia.
4
Statistics and Bioinformatics Group, Institute of Fundamental Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, 4442, New Zealand.
5
Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland.
6
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, University of Tartu, 51014, Tartu, Estonia.
7
School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand.
8
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, D-07745, Jena, Germany.
9
The Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, London, NW1 1AT, UK.
10
Institute of Genetics and Cytology of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk, 220072, Republic of Belarus.
11
Institute of Biochemistry and Genetics, Ufa Scientific Center of RAS, Ufa, 450054, Russia.
12
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu, 51010, Tartu, Estonia.
13
Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland.
14
Department of Radiology, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY, 10029, USA.
15
Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Siberian Branch of RAS, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia.
16
Research Institute of Medical and Social Problems and Control of the Healthcare Department of Tuva Republic, Kyzyl, 667003, Russia.
17
Research Centre for Medical Genetics, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, 115478, Russia.
18
Northern State Medical University, Arkhangelsk, 163000, Russia.
19
Anthony Nolan, London, NW3 2NU, UK.
20
Research Centre of Estonian Genome Center, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, 51010, Tartu, Estonia.
21
Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre, Riga, LV-1067, Latvia.
22
Vavilov Institute for General Genetics, RAS, Moscow, 119991, Russia.
23
Department of Genetics and Fundamental Medicine, Bashkir State University, Ufa, 450054, Russia.
24
Novosibirsk State University, 2 Pirogova Str, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia.
25
Institute of Internal Medicine, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia.
26
Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 1QH, UK.
27
Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven, Leuven, 3000, Belgium.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The genetic origins of Uralic speakers from across a vast territory in the temperate zone of North Eurasia have remained elusive. Previous studies have shown contrasting proportions of Eastern and Western Eurasian ancestry in their mitochondrial and Y chromosomal gene pools. While the maternal lineages reflect by and large the geographic background of a given Uralic-speaking population, the frequency of Y chromosomes of Eastern Eurasian origin is distinctively high among European Uralic speakers. The autosomal variation of Uralic speakers, however, has not yet been studied comprehensively.

RESULTS:

Here, we present a genome-wide analysis of 15 Uralic-speaking populations which cover all main groups of the linguistic family. We show that contemporary Uralic speakers are genetically very similar to their local geographical neighbours. However, when studying relationships among geographically distant populations, we find that most of the Uralic speakers and some of their neighbours share a genetic component of possibly Siberian origin. Additionally, we show that most Uralic speakers share significantly more genomic segments identity-by-descent with each other than with geographically equidistant speakers of other languages. We find that correlated genome-wide genetic and lexical distances among Uralic speakers suggest co-dispersion of genes and languages. Yet, we do not find long-range genetic ties between Estonians and Hungarians with their linguistic sisters that would distinguish them from their non-Uralic-speaking neighbours.

CONCLUSIONS:

We show that most Uralic speakers share a distinct ancestry component of likely Siberian origin, which suggests that the spread of Uralic languages involved at least some demic component.

KEYWORDS:

Genome-wide analysis; Haplotype analysis; IBD-segments; Population genetics; Uralic languages

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