Genetics of Indo-European populations: the past, the future
Oleg Balanovsky (Vavilov Institute for General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow),; Olga Utevska (V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University (Kharkov, Ukraine),; Elena Balanovska (Research Centre for Medical Genetics, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences (Moscow),
Journal of Language Relationship, № 9, 2013 - p.23-35
We describe our experience of comparing genetic and linguistic data in relation to the Indo-European problem. Our recent comparison of the genetic variation with lexicostatistical data on North Caucasian populations identified the parallel evolution of genes and languages; one can say that history of the populations was reflected in the linguistic and the genetic mirrors. For other linguistic families one can also expect this similarity, though it could be blurred by elite dominance and other events affecting gene and lexical pools differently. Indeed, for Indo-European populations of Europe, in contrast with the Caucasus case, the partial correlation indicates a more important role of geography (r = 0.32) rather than language (r = 0.21) in structuring the gene pool; though high pair correlation (r = 0.67) between genetics and linguistics distances allows using the lexicostatistical data as good predictors of genetic similarity between populations. The similarity between genetics and linguistics was identified for both Y­chromosomal data (populations are clustered according to their language) and mitochondrial DNA (populations are clustered according to their language group). In general, we believe that there is no single genetic marker definitively linked with the expansion of Indo-European populations. Instead, we are starting a new research project aiming to identify a set of markers partially linked with separate Indo-European groups, thus allowing partial reconstructions of the multi-layer mosaic of Indo-European movements.
Keywords: gene pool, Indo-European populations, Y­-chromosome