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Northern Slavs from Serbia do not show a founder effect at autosomal and Y-chromosomal STRs and retain their paternal genetic heritage

      Abstract

      Studies on Y-chromosomal markers revealed significant genetic differentiation between Southern and Northern (Western and Eastern) Slavic populations. The northern Serbian region of Vojvodina is inhabited by Southern Slavic Serbian majority and, inter alia, Western Slavic (Slovak) and Eastern Slavic (Ruthenian) minorities. In the study, 15 autosomal STR markers were analysed in unrelated Slovaks, Ruthenians and Serbs from northern Serbia and western Slovakia. Additionally, Slovak males from Serbia were genotyped for 17 Y-chromosomal STR loci. The results were compared to data available for other Slavic populations. Genetic distances for autosomal markers revealed homogeneity between Serbs from northern Serbia and Slovaks from western Slovakia and distinctiveness of Serbian Slovaks and Ruthenians. Y-STR variation showed a clear genetic departure of the Slovaks and Ruthenians inhabiting Vojvodina from their Serbian neighbours and genetic similarity to the Northern Slavic populations of Slovakia and Ukraine. Admixture estimates revealed negligible Serbian paternal ancestry in both Northern Slavic minorities of Vojvodina, providing evidence for their genetic isolation from the Serbian majority population. No reduction of genetic diversity at autosomal and Y-chromosomal markers was found, excluding genetic drift as a reason for differences observed at autosomal STRs. Analysis of molecular variance detected significant population stratification of autosomal and Y-chromosomal microsatellites in the three Slavic populations of northern Serbia, indicating necessity for separate databases used for estimations of frequencies of autosomal and Y-chromosomal STR profiles in forensic casework. Our results demonstrate that regarding Y-STR haplotypes, Serbian Slovaks and Ruthenians fit in the Eastern European metapopulation defined in the Y chromosome haplotype reference database.

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