Hungarian Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

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The Hungarian self-designation is Magyar. The early Magyars arrived in the land of Hungary from the east in the 9th century. At one time they were in alliance with the Khazars.

The original Magyar genetic contributions have become very diluted over the centuries due in large part to intermarriage with European tribes. This means that the modern Hungarian people are only somewhat descended from the ancient Magyars whose language they speak.

Y-DNA haplogroup frequencies differ markedly between regions of Hungary, so I can't really give a detailed summary that applies to all Hungarians, except to say that many Hungarians belong to haplogroups in the R1a family that's associated with the early Indo-Europeans and their other Y-DNA haplogroups are also found among their neighbors the Austrians and Slovaks.

There are some Hungarian villages where the inhabitants possess small frequencies of Y-DNA haplogroups from Central Asia and Northern Asia such as those in the N, Q, and C families.

SNP deep ancestry tests on the people of Hungary calculated that in terms of regional origins their ancestral components are 83.1 percent Atlantic-European, 10.2 percent Baltic-Urals, 2.3 percent Caucasus-Anatolian, 1 percent Arabian, 3.1 percent Pakistani-Indus, and 0.3 percent other (see "Genetic Links between Three SNP Based Regions in Europe", August 1, 2011).

Major studies of Hungarians

A. Z. Bíró, A. Zalán, A. Völgyi, and H. Pamjav. "A Y-chromosomal comparison of the Madjars (Kazakhstan) and the Magyars (Hungary)." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139:3 (July 2009): pages 305-310. Some of the lineages within Y-DNA haplogroup G are shared between the Madjar people of Kazakhstan and the Magyar people of Hungary. (Mirror) Abstract:

"The Madjars are a previously unstudied population from Kazakhstan who practice a form of local exogamy in which wives are brought in from neighboring tribes, but husbands are not, so the paternal lineages remain genetically isolated within the population. Their name bears a striking resemblance to the Magyars who have inhabited Hungary for over a millennium, but whose previous history is poorly understood. We have now carried out a genetic analysis of the population structure and relationships of the Madjars, and in particular have sought to test whether or not they show a genetic link with the Magyars. We concentrated on paternal lineages because of their isolation within the Madjars and sampled males representing all extant male lineages unrelated for more than eight generations (n = 45) in the Torgay area of Kazakhstan. The Madjars show evidence of extensive genetic drift, with 24/45 carrying the same 12-STR haplotype within haplogroup G. Genetic distances based on haplogroup frequencies were used to compare the Madjars with 37 other populations and showed that they were closest to the Hungarian population rather than their geographical neighbors. Although this finding could result from chance, it is striking and suggests that there could have been genetic contact between the ancestors of the Madjars and Magyars, and thus that modern Hungarians may trace their ancestry to Central Asia, instead of the Eastern Uralic region as previously thought."

B. Csányi, E. Bogácsi-Szabó, Gy. Tömöry, Á. Czibula, K. Priskin, A. CsŐsz, B. Mende, P. Langó, K. Csete, A. Zsolnai, E. K. Conant, C. S. Downes, and I. Raskó. "Y-Chromosome Analysis of Ancient Hungarian and Two Modern Hungarian-Speaking Populations from the Carpathian Basin." Annals of Human Genetics 72:4 (July 2008): pages 519-534. 100 Hungarian people from Hungary and 97 Hungarian-speaking Szekler people from Transylvania in present-day Romania were genetically tested. DNA was also successfully sampled from the skeletons of 4 Hungarians who lived in the 10th century. Two of the skeletons that were anthropologically Caucasoid-Mongoloid hybrids carried the Y-DNA haplogroup N3 (later ramed N1c) while one of them carried the Caucasoid mtDNA haplogroup H. This, along with the evidence from modern-day Hungarians, shows that the Magyar invaders had intermarried with local European tribes, greatly watering down Mongoloid genetic and physical traits among those who continued to speak the Hungarian language. Summary:

"The Hungarian population belongs linguistically to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family. The Tat C allele is an interesting marker in the Finno-Ugric context, distributed in all the Finno-Ugric-speaking populations, except for Hungarians. This question arises whether the ancestral Hungarians, who settled in the Carpathian Basin, harbored this polymorphism or not. 100 men from modern Hungary, 97 Szeklers (a Hungarian-speaking population from Transylvania), and 4 archaeologically Hungarian bone samples from the 10th century were studied for this polymorphism. Among the modern individuals, only one Szekler carries the Tat C allele, whereas out of the four skeletal remains, two possess the allele. The latter finding, even allowing for the low sample number, appears to indicate a Siberian lineage of the invading Hungarians, which later has largely disappeared. The two modern Hungarian-speaking populations, based on 22 Y-chromosomal binary markers, share similar components described for other Europeans, except for the presence of the haplogroup P*(xM173) in Szekler samples, which may reflect a Central Asian connection, and high frequency of haplogroup J in both Szeklers and Hungarians. MDS analysis based on haplogroup frequency values, confirms that modern Hungarian and Szekler populations are genetically closely related, and similar to populations from Central Europe and the Balkans."
Excerpts from the middle of the text:
"The R1a1-M17 frequency in Hungarians (30%) and Szeklers (18.6%) is comparable to that in their neighbours (e.g. Czechs and Slovaks, mainland Croatians, Bosnians, Romanians, Serbians) and some other Uralic-speaking populations (e.g. Estonian, Komis, Mordvin)... Similar frequencies of R1b as in the Hungarian speakers are found in some Slavic populations (mainland Croatians, Slovenians, Poles, Bulgarians); and in some Uralic-speakers (Komis, Khanties, Mordvin) as well as in Romanian and Turkish populations... The presence of central-Asian haplogroup P*(xM173) in Szeklers is unusual for a European population, since it is almost absent in continental Europe... and presumably reflects some Asian contribution, before or after reaching Transylvania. Hg I-M170 is the only Y-chromosome haplogroup that is confined almost exclusively to the European continent... Haplogroup I was detected with almost equal frequency in the two modern populations: 24% in Hungarians and 21.7% in Szeklers. However, two of its major subclades- I1a-M253 and I1b*(xM26) - show an opposite occurrence in the two ethnic groups, 8% and 13%, respectively, in Hungarians, and 16.5% and 5.2% in Szeklers. These are within the range of normal central and eastern European values... The elevated frequency of Hg I1a together with higher frequency of R1b-M269 in Szekler population might be the consequence, at least in part, of the genetic impact of people of German origin, who settled in Transylvania from the 12th century onwards (Transylvanian Saxons)... In the present study haplogroup J was unexpectedly common in the Hungarian-speaking populations (Hungarians: 16%, Szeklers: 21.6%). Haplogroup J... is considered to have originated in the Middle East... The J1-M267 Y-chromosomal lineage is notably frequent in Szeklers (10.3%; a value far above the range for other central and eastern European populations..., while its frequency in Hungarians (3.0%) is unremarkable. ... Among these J2-M172 subclades, J2e1-M102 is more frequent in Szeklers (7.2%) than in Hungarians (4.0%), while the undifferentiated J2-M172* Y chromosomes are slightly more common in Hungarian population (8% vs. 3.1%). Both J2f*-M67 and J2f1-M92 lineages were detected in our study in one single individual, in each population. ... Haplogroup E3b-M35 occurs at 10% frequency in Hungarians and 9.2% in Szeklers with E3b1-M78 chromosomes accounting for almost all representatives (∼90%). Hg E is mainly African, but its clade E3b-M35 has also been observed in Europe... Both E3b-M35 and its derivative (E3b1-M78) probably originated in eastern Africa..."
"Our data suggest that the Tat C allele, which is widespread in Uralic-speaking populations, was substantially present in the ancient Magyar population when they crossed the Carpathians and settled in the Carpathian Basin. Our findings provide further evidence for its virtual absence in recent Hungarian-speaking populations, with the exception of a single male in the Szekler group. This contrast, despite the relative linguistic stability, may be attributed to a combination of the Magyars being a dominant elite, whose language was accepted by the more numerous pre-existing populations (mostly Slavs and Avars), and of the effects of a number of substantial post-Magyar immigrations and incursions. The Y-chromosomal patterns of the modern Hungarians and Szeklers can for the most part be adequately explained within the European paternal genetic landscape. As with other Europeans, the Y chromosomes are characterized by early lineages derived from Paleolithic inhabitants, and by a minor impact of Neolithic and post-Neolithic migratory episodes. Consistent with previous studies, Hungarian-speaking populations are genetically closely related to their geographic neighbours. The Hungarian and Szekler groups cluster together with some other central Europeans (e.g. Czechs and Slovaks), but mainly with Balkan populations. There are two exceptions. Haplogroup P*(xM173) is almost absent in continental Europe. The presence of this haplogroup in the Szeklers may indicate a connection with Central Asian populations. Also, there is an elevated haplogroup J frequency. This may reflect Anatolian and southern Balkan contributions to the gene pools of Hungarians and Szeklers, but historical data and the comparative analyses of maternal lineages of ancient Hungarian population suggest that the earlier migrations of the Magyars may also have contributed to the presence of this lineage in the Carpathian Basin."

A. Völgyi, A. Zalán, E. Szvetnik, and H. Pamjav. "Hungarian population data for 11 Y-STR and 49 Y-SNP markers." Forensic Science International: Genetics 3:2 (March 2009): pages e27-e28. Abstract:

"49 Y-chromosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with TaqMan assay and 11 Y-chromosomal STR loci were tested in 215 independent Hungarian male samples. Genetic distances to 23 other populations were calculated based on haplogroup frequencies with AMOVA implemented in Arlequin2.0. Based on distances phylogenetic tree was constructed with Neighbor-joining method using Phylip 3.66. Haplotype and haplogroup diversity values were calculated."

G. Tömöry, B. Csányi, E. Bogácsi-Szabó, T. Kalmár, A. Czibula, A. Csosz, K. Priskin, B. Mende, P. Langó, C. S. Downes, and I. Raskó. "Comparison of maternal lineage and biogeographic analyses of ancient and modern Hungarian populations." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 134:3 (November 2007): pages 354-368. Abstract:

"The Hungarian language belongs to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family, but Hungarian speakers have been living in Central Europe for more than 1000 years, surrounded by speakers of unrelated Indo-European languages. In order to study the continuity in maternal lineage between ancient and modern Hungarian populations, polymorphisms in the HVSI and protein coding regions of mitochondrial DNA sequences of 27 ancient samples (10th-11th centuries), 101 modern Hungarian, and 76 modern Hungarian-speaking Sekler samples from Transylvania were analyzed. The data were compared with sequences derived from 57 European and Asian populations, including Finno-Ugric populations, and statistical analyses were performed to investigate their genetic relationships. Only 2 of 27 ancient Hungarian samples are unambiguously Asian: the rest belong to one of the western Eurasian haplogroups, but some Asian affinities, and the genetic effect of populations who came into contact with ancient Hungarians during their migrations are seen. Strong differences appear when the ancient Hungarian samples are analyzed according to apparent social status, as judged by grave goods. Commoners show a predominance of mtDNA haplotypes and haplogroups (H, R, T), common in west Eurasia, while high-status individuals, presumably conquering Hungarians, show a more heterogeneous haplogroup distribution, with haplogroups (N1a, X) which are present at very low frequencies in modern worldwide populations and are absent in recent Hungarian and Sekler populations. Modern Hungarian-speaking populations seem to be specifically European. Our findings demonstrate that significant genetic differences exist between the ancient and recent Hungarian-speaking populations, and no genetic continuity is seen."

E. Nadasi, P. Gyurus, M. Czakó, J. Bene, S. Kosztolányi, S. Fazekas, P. Dömösi, and B. Melegh. "Comparison of mtdna haplogroups in Hungarians with four other European populations: a small incidence of descents with Asian origin." Acta Biologica Hungarica 58:2 (June 2007): pages 245-256. Abstract:

"Hungarians are unique among the other European populations because according to history, the ancient Magyars had come from the eastern side of the Ural Mountains and settled down in the Carpathian basin in the 9th century AD. Since variations in the human mitochondrial genome (mtDNA) are routinely used to infer the histories of different populations, we examined the distribution of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) sites of the mtDNA in apparently healthy, unrelated Hungarian subjects in order to collect data on the genetic origin of the Hungarian population. Among the 55 samples analyzed, the large majority belonged to haplogroups common in other European populations, however, three samples fulfilled the requirements of haplogroup M. Since haplogroup M is classified as a haplogroup characteristic mainly for Asian populations, the presence of haplogroup M found in approximately 5% of the total suggests that an Asian matrilineal ancestry, even if in a small incidence, can be detected among modern Hungarians."

Garrett Hellenthal, George B. J. Busby, G. Band, J. F. Wilson, Cristian Capelli, D. Falush, and S. Myers. "A Genetic Atlas of Human Admixture History." Science 343:6172 (February 14, 2014): pages 747-751. Companion website. 18 Hungarians participated in this study. Excerpts from the website:

"The clearest admixture signal in each population predates the Mongol empire but involves the minority source group having at least some ancestry related to Northeast Asians (e.g. the Oroqen, Mongola and Yakut), with approximately 2-4% of these groups' total ancestry proportion linking directly to East Asia, [...] highest in Hungarians. These results are consistent with our detecting a genetic legacy from invasions of peoples from the Asian steppes (e.g. the Huns, Magyar and Turkic Bulgars) during the first millennium CE [...]"

E. Bogácsi-Szabó, T. Kalmár, B. Csányi, G. Tömöry, A. Czibula, K. Priskin, F. Horváth, C. S. Downes, and I. Raskó. "Mitochondrial DNA of ancient Cumanians: culturally Asian steppe nomadic immigrants with substantially more western Eurasian mitochondrial DNA lineages." Human Biology 77:5 (October 2005): pages 639-662. Abstract:

"The Cumanians were originally Asian pastoral nomads who in the 13th century migrated to Hungary. We have examined mitochondrial DNA from members of the earliest Cumanian population in Hungary from two archeologically well-documented excavations and from 74 modern Hungarians from different rural locations in Hungary. Haplogroups were defined based on HVS I sequences and examinations of haplogroup-associated polymorphic sites of the protein coding region and of HVS II. To exclude contamination, some ancient DNA samples were cloned. A database was created from previously published mtDNA HVS I sequences (representing 2,615 individuals from different Asian and European populations) and 74 modem Hungarian sequences from the present study. This database was used to determine the relationships between the ancient Cumanians, modern Hungarians, and Eurasian populations and to estimate the genetic distances between these populations. We attempted to deduce the genetic trace of the migration of Cumanians. This study is the first ancient DNA characterization of an eastern pastoral nomad population that migrated into Europe. The results indicate that, while still possessing a Central Asian steppe culture, the Cumanians received a large admixture of maternal genes from more westerly populations before arriving in Hungary. A similar dilution of genetic, but not cultural, factors may have accompanied the settlement of other Asian nomads in Europe."

Ornella Semino, Giuseppe Passarino, Lluís Quintana-Murci, Aiping Liu, Judit Béres, Andreas Czeizel, and A. Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti. "MtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms in Hungary: inferences from the palaeolithic, neolithic and Uralic influences on the modern Hungarian gene pool." European Journal of Human Genetics 8 (2000): pages 339-346. This particular study's Hungarian samples carried the R1a Y-DNA haplogroup at a frequency of 60 percent. Abstract:

"Magyars imposed their language on Hungarians but seem not to have affected their genetic structure. To better investigate this point, we analysed some mtDNA and Y chromosome polymorphisms in a sample of the Hungarian Palóc who, for historical reasons, could have retained genetic traces of Magyars more than other groups. In addition, we examined a mixed sample from Budapest. About 100 individuals were tested for the markers defining all the European and Asian mtDNA haplogroups and about 50 individuals for some Y chromosome markers, namely the 12f2 and 49a,f/TaqI RFLPs, the YAP insertion, the microsatellites YCAIIa, YCAIIb, DYS19 and the Asian 50f2/C deletion. In the mtDNA analysis only two subjects belonged to the Asian B and M haplogroups. The Y chromosome analyses showed: that the Palóc differed from the Budapest sample by the absence of YAP+ allele and by the DYS19 allele distribution; that the proto-European 49a,f Ht 15 and the neolithic 12f2-8Kb were rather uncommon in both groups; that there is a high prevalence of the 49a,f Ht 11 and the YCAII a5-b1; and that the Asian 50f2/C deletion is absent. These results suggest that the influence of Magyars on the Hungarian gene pool has been very low through both females and males and the Hungarian language could be an example of cultural dominance. Alternative explanations are discussed. An expansion centred on YAP-; 49a,f Ht 11 is revealed by the median network based on compound haplotypes. 49a,f Ht 11 could represent either a paleolithic marker of eastern Europe which underwent expansion after the last glacial period, or a marker of the more recent spread of the Yamnaia culture from southern Ukraine."

Vincenza Battaglia, Simona Fornarino, Nadia Al-Zahery, Anna Olivieri, Maria Pala, Natalie M. Myres, Roy J. King, Siiri Rootsi, Damir Marjanovic, Dragan Primorac, Rifat Hadziselimovic, Stojko Vidovic, Katia Drobnic, Naser Durmishi, Antonio Torroni, Augusta Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti, Peter A. Underhill, and Ornella Semino. "Y-chromosomal evidence of the cultural diffusion of agriculture in southeast Europe." European Journal of Human Genetics 17:6 (2008): pages 820-830. The Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1a-M17 was found in about 57% of their sample of 53 Hungarian men.

Kristiina Tambets, Siiri Rootsi, Toomas Kivisild, Hela Help, Piia Serk, Eva-Liis Loogvöli, Helle-Viivi Tolk, Maere Reidla, Ene Metspalu, Liana Pliss, Oleg Balanovsky, Andrey Pshenichnov, Elena Balanovska, Marina Gubina, Sergey Zhadanov, Ludmila Osipova, Larisa Damba, Mikhail Voevoda, Ildus A. Kutuev, Marina Bermisheva, Elza Khusnutdinova, Vladislava Gusar, Elena Grechanina, Jüri Parik, Erwan Pennarun, Christelle Richard, Andre Chaventre, Jean-Paul Moisan, Lovorka Barać, Marijana Peričić, Pavao Rudan, Rifat Terzić, Ilia Mikerezi, Astrida Krumina, Viesturs Baumanis, Slawomir Koziel, Olga Rickards, Gian Franco De Stefano, Nicholas Anagnou, Kalliopi I. Pappa, Emmanuel Michalodimitrakis, Vladimir Ferák, Sandor Füredi, Radovan Komel, Lars Beckman, and Richard Villems. "The Western and Eastern Roots of the Saami—the Story of Genetic 'Outliers' Told by Mitochondrial DNA and Y Chromosomes." American Journal of Human Genetics 74:4 (2004): pages 661-682. 113 Hungarians were among those tested for this study. In this sample, only 20.4% of the Hungarians carried the Y-DNA haplogroup R1a.

Z. H. Rosser, T. Zerjal, M. E. Hurles, M. Adojaan, D. Alavantic, A. Amorim, W. Amos, M. Armenteros, et al. "Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Europe Is Clinal and Influenced Primarily by Geography, Rather than by Language." American Journal of Human Genetics 67:6 (2000): pages 1526-1543. Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1-SRY1532b positive lineages were found in about 22% (8) of the 36 Hungarian men tested.

Horolma Pamjav, Tibor Fehér, Endre Németh, and Zsolt Pádár. "Brief communication: New Y-chromosome binary markers improve phylogenetic resolution within haplogroup R1a1." American Journal of Physical Anthropology. First published online on October 31, 2012. Excerpts from the Abstract:

"R1a1-M458 and R1a1-Z280 were typical for the Hungarian population groups, whereas R1a1-Z93 was typical for Malaysian Indians and the Hungarian Roma."

Fulvio Cruciani, Roberta La Fratta, Beniamino Trombetta, Piero Santolamazza, Daniele Sellitto, Eliane Beraud Colomb, Jean-Michel Dugoujon, Federica Crivellaro, Tamara Benincasa, Roberto Pascone, Pedro Moral, Elizabeth Watson, Bela Melegh, Guido Barbujani, Silvia Fuselli, Giuseppe Vona, Boris Zagradisnik, Guenter Assum, Radim Brdicka, Andrey I. Kozlov, Georgi D. Efremov, Alfredo Coppa, Andrea Novelletto, and Rosaria Scozzari. "Tracing Past Human Male Movements in Northern/Eastern Africa and Western Eurasia: New Clues from Y-Chromosomal Haplogroups E-M78 and J-M12." Molecular Biology and Evolution 24(6) (June 2007): pages 1300-1311. First published online on March 10, 2007. Data from 106 Hungarian males represent a row on "Table 1: Frequencies (%) of the Y-chromosome E-M78 sub-haplogroups in the 81 populations analyzed". 9.43% of them (10 individuals) belong to E-M78 and 9.43% to E-V13.

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