Testing Central and Inner Asian admixture among contemporary Hungarians

Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015 Mar:15:121-6. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2014.11.007. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Historically, the Carpathian Basin was the final destination for many nomadic peoples who migrated westward from Inner and Central Asia towards Europe. Proto-Hungarians (Steppe Magyars) were among those who came from the East, the Eurasian Steppe in the early middle ages. In order to detect the paternal genetic contribution from nomadic Steppe tribes, we tested 966 samples from Central Asian (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan), Inner Asian (Mongolians and Buryats in Mongolia) and Hungarian-speaking European (Hungarian, Sekler and Csango) populations. We constructed median-joining networks of certain haplogroups in Hungarian-speaking European, and Altaic-speaking Central and Inner Asian populations. We estimated that the possible paternal genetic contribution from the above described populations among contemporary Hungarian speaking populations ranged between 5% and 7.4%. It is lowest among Hungarians from Hungary (5.1%), while higher among Hungarian-speaking groups in Romania, notably Sekler (7.4%) and Csango (6.3%). However, these results represent only an upper limit. Actual Central/Inner Asian admixture might be somewhat lower as some of the related lineages may have come from a common third source. The main haplogroups responsible for the Central/Inner Asian admixture among Hungarians are J2*-M172 (xM47, M67, M12), J2-L24, R1a-Z93; Q-M242 and E-M78. Earlier studies showed very limited Uralic genetic influence among Hungarians, and based on the present study, Altaic/Turkic genetic contribution is also not significant, although significantly higher than the Uralic one. The conclusion of this study is that present-day Hungarian speakers are genetically very similar to neighbouring populations, isolated Hungarian speaking groups having relatively higher presence of Central and Inner Asian genetic elements. At the same time, the reliable historical and genetic conclusions require an extension of the study to a significantly larger database with deep haplogroup resolution, including ancient DNA data.

Keywords: Central and Inner Asian populations; Hungarian speakers; Y-SNPs; Y-STRs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asian People / genetics*
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide