DNA Diversity and Population Admixture in Anatolia

Benedetto et al. 2001

The Turkic language was introduced in Anatolia at the start of this millennium, by nomadic Turkmen groups from Central Asia. Whether that cultural transition also had significant population-genetics consequences is not fully understood. Three nuclear microsatellite loci, the hypervariable region I of the mitochondrial genome, six microsatellite loci of the Y chromosome, and one Alu insertion (YAP) were amplified and typed in 118 individuals from four populations of Anatolia. For each locus, the number of chromosomes considered varied between 51200. Genetic variation was large within samples, and much less so between them. The contribution of Central Asian genes to the current Anatolian gene pool was quantified using three different methods, considering for comparison populations of Mediterranean Europe, and Turkic-speaking populations of Central Asia. The most reliable estimates suggest roughly 30% Central Asian admixture for both mitochondrial and Ychromosome loci. That (admittedly approximate) figure is compatible both with a substantial immigration accompanying the arrival of the Turkmen armies (which is not historically documented), and with continuous gene flow from Asia into Anatolia, at a rate of 1% for 40 generations. Because a military invasion is expected to more deeply affect the male gene pool, similar estimates of admixture for female- and male-transmitted traits are easier to reconcile with continuous migratory contacts between Anatolia and its Asian neighbors, perhaps facilitated by the disappearance of a linguistic barrier between them.