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The Turkic Expansion

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About DNA

Here is some information about understanding DNA evidence related to the Turkic expansion.

                 Studying the Y chromosome and markers located on the Y chromosome is useful for determining the influence of different male populations, their mixture, or separation, and relationship to one another. Thus, DNA evidence linked to the Y chromosome is useful for determining population histories linked to mass migrations of males. When compared to Y chromosome data from other populations, Y chromosome markers can give clues as to movements and influences of males from one area to another, as in the case of the Turkic expansion across Asia and Europe. Specifically, data from the Y chromosome can help determine the extent of admixture between populations and the nature of the incoming males interactions with the indigenous populations. This is precisely the area of investigation of Benedetto et al (2001), who used the Y chromosome data to determine the relationship between Y chromosome markers in Europe, Turkey, and Central Asia, and through their analysis, provided genetic evidence for how and to what extent incoming Central Asian populations contributed to present day Y chromosome markers found in Turkey today.

            Mitochondrial DNA is also useful in tracing populations over long periods of time, since this DNA is inherited directly from the mother with no recombination. There are many copies of mtDNA in each cell. Thus, it is also easier to study than traditional DNA from the nucleus (Calafell,1996). Mitochondrial DNA's usefulness for analyzing effects of population movements where the majority of the incoming population was male (as in military invasions), however, is limited, as Benedetto et al (2001) point out.


Works Cited

Benedetto et al. 2001. DNA diversity and admixture in Anatolia. American  Journal of

Physical Anthropology. 115:144-156.

Calafell, F. et al. 1996. From Asia to Europe: mitochondrial DNA sequence variability in Bulgarians and Turks. Annals of Human Genetics. 60: 35-49.