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, 12 (2), e0172952

Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Eneolithic Trypillians From Ukraine Reveals Neolithic Farming Genetic Roots


Mitochondrial DNA Analysis of Eneolithic Trypillians From Ukraine Reveals Neolithic Farming Genetic Roots

Alexey G Nikitin et al. PLoS One.


The agricultural revolution in Eastern Europe began in the Eneolithic with the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture complex. In Ukraine, the Trypillian culture (TC) existed for over two millennia (ca. 5,400-2,700 BCE) and left a wealth of artifacts. Yet, their burial rituals remain a mystery and to date almost nothing is known about the genetic composition of the TC population. One of the very few TC sites where human remains can be found is a cave called Verteba in western Ukraine. This report presents four partial and four complete mitochondrial genomes from nine TC individuals uncovered in the cave. The results of this analysis, combined with the data from previous reports, indicate that the Trypillian population at Verteba carried, for the most part, a typical Neolithic farmer package of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages traced to Anatolian farmers and Neolithic farming groups of central Europe. At the same time, the find of two specimens belonging to haplogroup U8b1 at Verteba can be viewed as a connection of TC with the Upper Paleolithic European populations. At the level of mtDNA haplogroup frequencies, the TC population from Verteba demonstrates a close genetic relationship with population groups of the Funnel Beaker/ Trichterbecker cultural complex from central and northern Europe (ca. 3,950-2,500 BCE).

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. PCA plot of mitochondrial DNA frequencies of 37 Eurasian populations from the Upper Paleolithic to the Early Bronze Age, including Trypillian population from Verteba (TC, shaded).
The Neo-Eneolithic cluster of farming populations from Asia Minor and Europe is circled on the graph. Culture abbreviations, population sizes and the sources of data are given in the S2 Table.

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Grant support

The September 2007 excavations at Verteba were funded, in part, by a Michigan Space Consortium Research Seed Grant to AGN. The May-June 2008 excavations were conducted as part of the 2008 GVSU Study Abroad in Ukraine activities. The DNA analysis at GVSU was funded by a Research Grant-in-Aid and faculty development funds from GVSU. DR is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.