Human genomic diversity in Europe: a summary of recent research and prospects for the future

Eur J Hum Genet. 1993;1(1):3-18. doi: 10.1159/000472383.


Gene frequencies in Europe are intermediate with respect to those of other continents. A phylogenetic tree reconstructed from 95 gene frequencies tested on 26 European samples shows some deviant populations (Lapps, Sardinians, Greeks, Yugoslavs, Basques, Icelanders and Finns) and other weakly structured populations. This behavior may have a simple interpretation: Europeans have not evolved according to a tree of descent probably because of the major role played by migrations in prehistorical and historical times. The leading component of the European genetic landscape is a gradient that originates in the Middle East and is directed to the northwest. According to the hypothesis by Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza this gradient was generated by a migration of Neolithic farmers from Anatolia followed by continuous, partial admixture of the expanding farmers with local hunter-gatherers. Other leading components of the gene frequencies in Europe show correlations with possible movements of Uralic-speaking people and pastoral nomads from a region north of the Caucasus and Black Sea, which according to Gimbutas is the area of origin of Indo-European speakers. This analysis is based on classical pre-DNA genetic markers. The prospect of future research using DNA polymorphisms is discussed in the context of the Human Genome Project.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Alleles
  • Americas
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • DNA / genetics
  • Ethnic Groups / genetics
  • Ethnic Groups / history
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation*
  • History, Ancient
  • Human Genome Project
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Population Dynamics


  • Genetic Markers
  • DNA