Standing at the gateway to Europe - The genetic structure of Western Balkan populations based on autosomal and haploid markers

Lejla Kovacevic, Kristiina Tambets, Anne Mai Ilumäe, Alena Kushniarevich, Bayazit Yunusbayev, Anu Solnik, Tamer Bego, Dragan Primorac, Vedrana Skaro, Andreja Leskovac, Zlatko Jakovski, Katja Drobnic, Helle Viivi Tolk, Sandra Kovacevic, Pavao Rudan, Ene Metspalu, Damir Marjanovic

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Contemporary inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula belong to several ethnic groups of diverse cultural background. In this study, three ethnic groups from Bosnia and Herzegovina - Bosniacs, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs - as well as the populations of Serbians, Croatians, Macedonians from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegrins and Kosovars have been characterized for the genetic variation of 660 000 genome-wide autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms and for haploid markers. New autosomal data of the 70 individuals together with previously published data of 20 individuals from the populations of the Western Balkan region in a context of 695 samples of global range have been analysed. Comparison of the variation data of autosomal and haploid lineages of the studied Western Balkan populations reveals a concordance of the data in both sets and the genetic uniformity of the studied populations, especially of Western South-Slavic speakers. The genetic variation of Western Balkan populations reveals the continuity between the Middle East and Europe via the Balkan region and supports the scenario that one of the major routes of ancient gene flows and admixture went through the Balkan Peninsula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere105090
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 22 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Kovacevic, L., Tambets, K., Ilumäe, A. M., Kushniarevich, A., Yunusbayev, B., Solnik, A., Bego, T., Primorac, D., Skaro, V., Leskovac, A., Jakovski, Z., Drobnic, K., Tolk, H. V., Kovacevic, S., Rudan, P., Metspalu, E., & Marjanovic, D. (2014). Standing at the gateway to Europe - The genetic structure of Western Balkan populations based on autosomal and haploid markers. PloS one, 9(8), [e105090].