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. 2018 Mar 14;13(3):e0193578.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193578. eCollection 2018.

Maternal DNA Lineages at the Gate of Europe in the 10th Century AD

Free PMC article

Maternal DNA Lineages at the Gate of Europe in the 10th Century AD

Ioana Rusu et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Given the paucity of archaeogenetic data available for medieval European populations in comparison to other historical periods, the genetic landscape of this age appears as a puzzle of dispersed, small, known pieces. In particular, Southeastern Europe has been scarcely investigated to date. In this paper, we report the study of mitochondrial DNA in 10th century AD human samples from Capidava necropolis, located in Dobruja (Southeastern Romania, Southeastern Europe). This geographical region is particularly interesting because of the extensive population flux following diverse migration routes, and the complex interactions between distinct population groups during the medieval period. We successfully amplified and typed the mitochondrial control region of 10 individuals. For five of them, we also reconstructed the complete mitochondrial genomes using hybridization-based DNA capture combined with Next Generation Sequencing. We have portrayed the genetic structure of the Capidava medieval population, represented by 10 individuals displaying 8 haplotypes (U5a1c2a, V1a, R0a2'3, H1, U3a, N9a9, H5e1a1, and H13a1a3). Remarkable for this site is the presence of both Central Asiatic (N9a) and common European mtDNA haplotypes, establishing Capidava as a point of convergence between East and West. The distribution of mtDNA lineages in the necropolis highlighted the existence of two groups of two individuals with close maternal relationships as they share the same haplotypes. We also sketch, using comparative statistical and population genetic analyses, the genetic relationships between the investigated dataset and other medieval and modern Eurasian populations.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: David Caramelli is a member of the PLOS ONE editorial board, which does not alter the authors’ adherence to PLOS ONE Editorial policies and criteria.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Location of the investigated medieval site.
The map was created using QGIS 2.18.11.
Fig 2
Fig 2. PCA plot of the first two components (34.82% of variance) of medieval populations.
The PCA based on mtDNA haplogroup frequencies of the 15 medieval populations shows a roughly clustering of the ancient populations from Romania (ROU-med) and medieval Cumanians from Hungary (HUN-Cum). The other medieval populations from Southern Europe are clustered together, as are those from the North of Europe. The abbreviations, references and haplogroup frequencies are presented in S5 Table.
Fig 3
Fig 3. PCA of the investigated medieval and present-day populations.
The PCA is based on mtDNA haplogroup frequencies of the medieval population from Romania and 35 modern populations from Eurasia and shows PC1 and PC2. The haplogroup frequencies and population information are listed in S8 Table.
Fig 4
Fig 4. Levelplot of the linearized Slatkin population differentiation (FST) values and significant p values.
Lower left corner: significant p values (< 0.05) are indicated in green. Upper right corner: larger Slatkin FST values indicating greater genetic distances are marked by dark red shades. The exact FST and p values and population information are indicated in S6 Table.
Fig 5
Fig 5. MDS plot of Romanian medieval population and modern Eurasian populations.
Stress value is 0.1323 and non-metric fit (R2) is 0.982, values that highlight a good fit between the two-dimensional graph and the original distance matrix. The linearized Slatkin FST values and population information are presented in the S9 Table.

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Grant support

This work was supported by the Executive Unit for Financing Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (UEFISCDI), project number PN-II-PT-PCCA-2011-3.1-1153, contract number 229/2013: “Genetic Evolution: New Evidences for the Study of Interconnected Structures. A Biomolecular Journey around the Carpathians from Ancient to Medieval Times”. M.H. was supported by a Basque Government grand to the research group (IT 1138-16). I.R.’s research internship at the University of Florence was supported by the FONDUL SOCIAL EUROPEAN, Programul Operaţional Sectorial Dezvoltarea Resurselor Umane 2007-2013, “Calitate, excelență, mobilitate transnațională în cercetarea doctorală”, POSDRU/187/1.5/S/155383. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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