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Keywords:

  • Armenia;
  • phylogenetic analyses;
  • autosomal STRs;
  • identifiler

Abstract

The archeology and ethnology of Armenia suggest that this region has acted as a crossroads for human migrations from Europe and the Middle East since at least the Neolithic. Near continual foreign influx has, in turn, led to the supposition that the gene pools of geographically separated Armenian populations may have diverged as differing historical influences potentially left distinct genetic traces in the various regions of the Armenian plateau. In this study, we seek to address whether any evidence for such genetic regional partitioning in Armenians exists by analyzing, for the first time, 15 autosomal short tandem repeat (STR) loci in 404 Armenians from four geographically well-characterized collections (Ararat Valley, Gardman, Sasun, and Lake Van) that represent distinct communities from across Historical Armenia. In addition, to determine whether genetic differences among these four Armenian populations are the result of differential affinities to populations of known historical influence in Armenia, we utilize 27 biogeographically targeted reference populations for phylogenetic and admixture analyses. From these examinations, we find that while close genetic affiliations exist between the two easternmost Armenian groups analyzed, Ararat Valley and Gardman, the remaining two populations display substantial distinctions. In particular, Sasun is distinguished by evidence for genetic contributions from Turkey, while a stronger Balkan component is detected in Lake Van, potentially suggestive of remnant genetic influences from ancient Greek and Phrygian populations in this region. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.