Original Article

Journal of Human Genetics

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 308-316

First online:

Population history of the Dniester–Carpathians: evidence from Alu markers

  • Alexander VarzariAffiliated withNational Center of Reproductive Health and Medical GeneticsBiocentre, Ludwigs-Maximilian University MunichInstitute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Academy of Sciences of Moldova Email author 
  • , Wolfgang StephanAffiliated withBiocentre, Ludwigs-Maximilian University Munich
  • , Vadim StepanovAffiliated withResearch Institute of Medical Genetics, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
  • , Florina RaicuAffiliated withAnthropological Research Centre “Francisc Rainer”, Romanian Academy
  • , Radu CojocaruAffiliated withNational Scientific and Practical Centre for Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health
  • , Yuri RoschinAffiliated withMedical Diagnostical Centre “Modus Vivendi”
  • , Cristiana GlavceAffiliated withAnthropological Research Centre “Francisc Rainer”, Romanian Academy
  • , Valentin DergachevAffiliated withInstitute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Academy of Sciences of Moldova
  • , Maria SpiridonovaAffiliated withResearch Institute of Medical Genetics, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
    • , Horst D. SchmidtAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Ulm
    • , Elisabeth WeissAffiliated withBiocentre, Ludwigs-Maximilian University Munich

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The area between the Dniester and the eastern Carpathian mountain range is at a geographical crossroads between eastern Europe and the Balkans. Little is known about the genetics of the population of this region. We performed an analysis of 12 binary autosomal markers in samples from six Dniester–Carpathian populations: two Moldavian, one Romanian, one Ukrainian and two Gagauz populations. The results were compared with gene frequency data from culturally and linguistically related populations from Southeast Europe and Central Asia. Small genetic differences were found among southeastern European populations (in particular those of the Dniester–Carpathian region). The observed homogeneity suggests either a very recent common ancestry of all southeastern European populations or strong gene flow between them. Despite this low level of differentiation, tree reconstruction and principle component analyses allowed a distinction between Balkan–Carpathian (Macedonians, Romanians, Moldavians, Ukrainians and Gagauzes) and eastern Mediterranean (Turks, Greeks and Albanians) population groups. The genetic affinities among Dniester–Carpathian and southeastern European populations do not reflect their linguistic relationships. The results indicate that the ethnic and genetic differentiations occurred in these regions to a considerable extent independently of each other. In particular, Gagauzes, a Turkic-speaking population, show closer affinities to their geographical neighbors than to other Turkic populations.


Alu insertion DNA polymorphism Moldavians Romanians Ukrainians Gagauzes Population structure