• Y chromosome;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • Lithuania;
  • population


The genetic composition of the Lithuanian population was investigated by analysing mitochondrial DNA hypervariable region 1, RFLP polymorphisms and Y chromosomal biallelic and STR markers in six ethnolinguistic groups of Lithuanians, to address questions about the origin and genetic structure of the present day population. There were no significant genetic differences among ethnolinguistic groups, and an analysis of molecular variance confirmed the homogeneity of the Lithuanian population. MtDNA diversity revealed that Lithuanians are close to both Slavic (Indo-European) and Finno-Ugric speaking populations of Northern and Eastern Europe. Y-chromosome SNP haplogroup analysis showed Lithuanians to be closest to Latvians and Estonians. Significant differences between Lithuanian and Estonian Y chromosome STR haplotypes suggested that these populations have had different demographic histories. We suggest that the observed pattern of Y chromosome diversity in Lithuanians may be explained by a population bottleneck associated with Indo-European contact. Different Y chromosome STR distributions in Lithuanians and Estonians might be explained by different origins or, alternatively, be the result of some period of isolation and genetic drift after the population split.