Tracing the Origin of the East-West Population Admixture in the Altai Region (Central Asia)

Mercedes González-Ruiz, Cristina Santos, Xavier Jordana, Marc Simón, Carles Lalueza-Fox, Elena Gigli, Maria Pilar Aluja, Assumpció Malgosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A recent discovery of Iron Age burials (Pazyryk culture) in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia may shed light on the mode and tempo of the generation of the current genetic east-west population admixture in Central Asia. Studies on ancient mitochondrial DNA of this region suggest that the Altai Mountains played the role of a geographical barrier between West and East Eurasian lineages until the beginning of the Iron Age. After the 7th century BC, coinciding with Scythian expansion across the Eurasian steppes, a gradual influx of East Eurasian sequences in Western steppes is detected. However, the underlying events behind the genetic admixture in Altai during the Iron Age are still unresolved: 1) whether it was a result of migratory events (eastward firstly, westward secondly), or 2) whether it was a result of a local demographic expansion in a 'contact zone' between European and East Asian people. In the present work, we analyzed the mitochondrial DNA lineages in human remains from Bronze and Iron Age burials of Mongolian Altai. Here we present support to the hypothesis that the gene pool of Iron Age inhabitants of Mongolian Altai was similar to that of western Iron Age Altaians (Russia and Kazakhstan). Thus, this people not only shared the same culture (Pazyryk), but also shared the same genetic east-west population admixture. In turn, Pazyryks appear to have a similar gene pool that current Altaians. Our results further show that Iron Age Altaians displayed mitochondrial lineages already present around Altai region before the Iron Age. This would provide support for a demographic expansion of local people of Altai instead of westward or eastward migratory events, as the demographic event behind the high population genetic admixture and diversity in Central Asia. © 2012 González-Ruiz et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere48904
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2012

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Tracing the Origin of the East-West Population Admixture in the Altai Region (Central Asia)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this