Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp 1557–1570 | Cite as

Mitochondrial DNA diversity in a Transbaikalian Xiongnu population

  • Aleksandr S. PilipenkoEmail author
  • Stepan V. Cherdantsev
  • Rostislav O. Trapezov
  • Anton A. Zhuravlev
  • Vladimir N. Babenko
  • Dmitri V. Pozdnyakov
  • Prokopiy B. Konovalov
  • Natalia V. Polosmak
Original Paper


Xiongnu was a confederation of nomadic pastoral tribes (~200 bc–100 ad) that founded the first nomadic empire in Central Asia. According to archeological and historical data, the tribes played a key role in ethnic and cultural processes in Central Asia and adjacent regions of Eurasia. Genetic studies of the Xiongnu published to date have focused on remains from burial grounds in present-day Mongolia, in the southern part of the ancient Xiongnu area. However, paleoanthropological materials from numerous Xiongnu cemeteries and settlements in Transbaikalia (the southern region of Eastern Siberia, Russia) in the northern part of the Xiongnu Empire have not been examined genetically. Here, we analyzed mitochondrial DNA variation in a Transbaikalian Xiongnu population based on ancient DNA obtained from skeletal remains (n = 18) at four burial grounds to complement available Xiongnu genetic diversity data. We detected 16 mitochondrial DNA haplotypes belonging to seven East Eurasian haplogroups (A, B5, C, D4, G2a, N9a, and Y) in the Transbaikalian Xiongnu series. We observed substantial similarity between Transbaikalian and Mongolian Xiongnu series with respect to main haplogroup composition and frequencies. We observed several mitochondrial DNA clusters (N9a, Y, B5, and A16) and 11 of 16 haplotypes that were previously undetected in the Xiongnu gene pool. We also observed high similarity between the Xiongnu and contemporary indigenous populations of eastern Central Asia, particularly Mongolian-speaking groups. These findings extend our knowledge of Xiongnu genetic diversity.


Ancient DNA Mitochondrial DNA Xiongnu Nomads Iron age Central Asia 



We thank staff of the Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist, and Tibetan Studies, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Science (Ulan-Ude, Russia) for their help with bone sample collection and Marina S. Nesterova for technical assistance. The study was financed by a Russian Science Foundation (RSCF) grant (project No. 14-18-03124).

Supplementary material

12520_2017_481_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary file S1 PCR-primers used for amplification of mtDNA fragments (DOCX 13 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (16 kb)
Supplementary file S2 List of modern Eurasian populations used for phylogeographic analysis (XLSX 16 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM3_ESM.xls (48 kb)
Supplementary file S3 MtDNA haplogroup frequencies in the Transbaikalian and Mongolian Xiongnu and modern Eurasian populations, used for analysis of interpopulational differences (XLS 48 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (22 kb)
Supplementary file S4 MtDNA HVRI sequences of the Transbaikalian and Mongolian Xiongnu and other ancient Eurasian populations, used for analysis of interpopulational differences (XLSX 21 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM5_ESM.ppt (611 kb)
Supplementary file S5 Alignment of mtDNA HVR I sequences of the Transbaikalian Xiongnu individuals (PPT 611 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM6_ESM.xlsx (25 kb)
Supplementary file S6 Results of the haplotype sharing analysis (HSA). (XLSX 24 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM7_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary file S7 Results of the phylogeographic analysis (DOCX 28 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM8_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary file S8 Autosomal STR-loci allelic profiles and results of sex determination of the Transbaikalian Xiongnu individuals (DOC 31 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM9_ESM.xls (34 kb)
Supplementary file S9 MtDNA haplogroup frequencies in the Transbaikalian and Mongolian Xiongnu and some other ancient Eurasian populations. (XLS 33 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM10_ESM.xlsx (30 kb)
Supplementary file S10 Interpopulation differences (by FST) between the Transbaikalian and Mongolian Xiongnu and modern Eurasian populations based on mtDNA haplogroup frequencies and MDS coordinates. (XLSX 29 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM11_ESM.xlsx (11 kb)
Supplementary file S11 Interpopulation differences (by F ST) between the Transbaikalian and Mongolian Xiongnu and other ancient Eurasian populations based on mtDNA HVRI sequences and MDS coordinates (XLSX 10 kb)
12520_2017_481_MOESM12_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary file S12 Characteristics of ancient Eurasian human populations (groups) used for comparison with the Xiongnu. (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleksandr S. Pilipenko
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Stepan V. Cherdantsev
    • 1
  • Rostislav O. Trapezov
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anton A. Zhuravlev
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vladimir N. Babenko
    • 1
  • Dmitri V. Pozdnyakov
    • 2
  • Prokopiy B. Konovalov
    • 4
  • Natalia V. Polosmak
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of ScienceNovosibirskRussia
  2. 2.Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of ScienceNovosibirskRussia
  3. 3.Novosibirsk State UniversityNovosibirskRussia
  4. 4.Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of ScienceUlan-UdeRussia

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