Diversity of some gene frequencies in European and Asian populations. V. Steep multilocus clines

Am J Hum Genet. 1990 Nov;47(5):867-75.


Regions of abrupt genetic change, which result from either rapid spatial change of selective pressures or limited admixture, were investigated in Europe and Asia on the basis of eight red cell markers typed in 960 samples. Two methods were employed, one based on genetic distances and one on evaluation of the first derivative of the surfaces representing allele-frequency variation. Genetic divergence tends to be maximal between populations that are separated by physical factors (mountain ranges and seas) but also separated by cultural barriers (different language affiliation). This suggests that mating isolation, rather than adaptive response to environmental change, accounts for spatially abrupt genetic change at the loci studied and that cultural differences associated with language contribute to isolating populations. Although selection may have determined two wide allele-frequency gradients, the genetic structure of European and Asian populations seems primarily to reflect isolation by distance when investigated on a small scale and migration patterns (or absence of migration) when investigated on a larger scale.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Asia
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Transients and Migrants


  • Genetic Markers