Background: Turkey is a crossroads of major population movements throughout history and has been a hotspot of cultural interactions. Several studies have investigated the complex population history of Turkey through a limited set of genetic markers. However, to date, there have been no studies to assess the genetic variation at the whole genome level using whole genome sequencing. Here, we present whole genome sequences of 16 Turkish individuals resequenced at high coverage (32×-48×).
Results: We show that the genetic variation of the contemporary Turkish population clusters with South European populations, as expected, but also shows signatures of relatively recent contribution from ancestral East Asian populations. In addition, we document a significant enrichment of non-synonymous private alleles, consistent with recent observations in European populations. A number of variants associated with skin color and total cholesterol levels show frequency differentiation between the Turkish populations and European populations. Furthermore, we have analyzed the 17q21.31 inversion polymorphism region (MAPT locus) and found increased allele frequency of 31.25% for H1/H2 inversion polymorphism when compared to European populations that show about 25% of allele frequency.
Conclusion: This study provides the first map of common genetic variation from 16 western Asian individuals and thus helps fill an important geographical gap in analyzing natural human variation and human migration. Our data will help develop population-specific experimental designs for studies investigating disease associations and demographic history in Turkey.