Rusyn Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

by Kevin Alan Brook

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The Rusyns, also known as Carpatho-Rusyns and Ruthenes, inhabit the Carpathian Mountains region, especially southwestern Ukraine, northeastern Slovakia, and southeastern Poland.

The Lemkos are the westernmost Rusyns, living in their Lemkivschyna homelands on the north side of the Carpathians in southeastern Poland including the Podkarpackie (Subcarpathian) region and the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) region, which during the Austrian Empire's heyday were in the western part of the region called Galicia, and also south of the Polish border in neighboring areas of Slovakia including the Prešov region in eastern Slovakia.

The Hutsuls are the easternmost Rusyns, living in Hutsulschyna in easternmost Subcarpathian Rus' in Ukraine and in neighboring northernmost Romania.

Boykos and Dolinyans live in between the Lemkos and the Hutsuls. Boykos live in Boykivschyna in southeasternmost Podkarpackie in Poland and in northern Subcarpathian Rus' in southwestern Ukraine. Dolinyans live south of Boykos throughout most of Subcarpathian Rus' and also in easternmost Slovakia.

Their language, called Rusyn or Ruthenian, is a variety of East Slavic and is spoken in Lemko, Hutsul, Boyko/Bojkian, Sjan, and Transcarpathian/Verchovyna dialects.

Their traditional religions for centuries have been Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism.

It's believed that the Rusyns descend from multiple old tribes including White Croats, Rus', and Vlachs.

Some Lemko men from eastern Slovakia have the Y-DNA haplogroup I2b (I-M223).

Among Rusyn members of the "Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage DNA Project", these are among the Y-DNA haplogroups:
• E-L117 from some with ancestors from Slovakia and Ukraine,
• E-L142 from some with ancestors from Ukraine and Poland,
• E-L542 from some with ancestors from Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia,
• I-M170 from some with ancestors from Ukraine and Slovakia,
• I-P37 from some with ancestors from Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia,
• R-M198 from some with ancestors from Slovakia,
• R-M269 from some with ancestors from Slovakia and Poland,
• R-M512 from some with ancestors from Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, and Ukraine,
• R-Z283 from some with ancestors from Slovakia and Ukraine,
• R-SRY10831 from some with ancestors from Ukraine and Poland,
• and I-CTS10228, R-Z280, and several more.

Members of the same project hold these mtDNA haplogroups:
• C7b (of Asian origin) from Ukraine,
• G3a,
• H10b from Slovakia,
• H13a1a1a,
• H1b3,
• H2a,
• H2a1,
• H5 from Poland,
• H5a2 from Poland,
• H6a1a,
• H7a1,
• H7g from Poland and Slovakia,
• H54 from Poland,
• HV1b from Ukraine,
• J1c2 from Poland,
• J1c4b from Slovakia,
• N1a from Poland,
• T from Ukraine,
• U2 from Ukraine,
• U4 from Ukraine,
• U5 from Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland,
• W from Ukraine and Poland,
• W3a2 from Ukraine,
• X from Poland,
• X2b-T226C from Poland,
• and more.

Rusyns generally married each other rather than members of other ethnic groups. However, in some villages in southeastern Poland, including in the Sanok region, Rusyns (especially Lemkos) and Poles sometimes married each other (Symbiosis and Ambivalence: Poles and Jews in a Small Galician Town by Rosa Lehmann, page 100; Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902-1969, page 500).

Major studies of Rusyns
(Lemkos, Boykos, Hutsuls, Dolinyans)

Alexey G. Nikitin, Igor T. Kochkin, Cynthia M. June, Catherine M. Willis, Ian McBain, and Mykhailo Y. Videiko. "Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation in the Boyko, Hutsul, and Lemko Populations of the Carpathian Highlands." Human Biology 81:1 (February 2009): pages 43-58.
      This studies the distribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups in multiple Rusyn subgroups native to the Carpathian Mountains: the Lemkos, the Boykos, and the Hutsuls. The sample size is 111, consisting of 53 people the study's authors recruited whose maternal grandmothers were Lemkos, 20 whose maternal grandmothers were Boykos, and 38 whose maternal grandmothers were Hutsuls. They were compared to Hungarians (including Palóc hungarians from the Carpathian highlands), Poles, Romanians, Belorussians, Croatians, Czechs, Russians, and Ukrainians whose data had appeared in previous studied.
——–– Lemkos —————————
Tables 1 and 2 list these frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups among the Lemko participants:
H among 32.1%, of which 7.5% are within H1 and 1.9% within H2
HV among 3.8%
I among 11.3%, the highest frequency of this haplogroup compared to almost anyone else in Europe, only matched by Croatians from Krk Island in Croatia
J among 13.2%
K among 5.7%
M* (of Asian origin) among 5.7%, found more often among Lemkos than among other ethnicities in the region
R* among 1.9%
T among 13.2%
U among 7.5%
W among 3.8%
X among 1.9%
——–– Boykos —————————
Tables 1 and 2 list these frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups among the Boyko participants:
H among 20%, none of whom belong to H1, H2, H3, H5a, or H10, and overall "atypically low haplogroup H frequency (20%) for a European population."
HV among 5%
J among 5%, a low frequency compared to most other central and eastern Europeans
K among 5%
N* among 5%
R* among 5%
T among 30%, the highest frequency of this haplogroup in the region
U among 15%
V among 5%
W among 5%
——–– Hutsuls —————————
Tables 1 and 2 list these frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups among the Hutsul participants:
H among 50%, of which 18.4% are within H1, 2.6% in H2, 2.6% in H3, 5.3% in H5a, and 2.6% in H10
J among 13.2%
K among 5.3%
N* among 5.3%
R* among 5.3%
T among 2.6%
U among 15.8%
X among 2.6%
The Hutsuls' frequency of haplogroup H1 is higher than those of all Central and Eastern European peoples tested so far, and they're almost as high as Spaniards for that frequency.
· · · In a noteworthy contrast to the Lemkos, haplogroup I wasn't possessed by any of the Boyko or Hutsul participants. In some of the other Central and Eastern European peoples studied, haplogroup I was found among many of them, but only in amounts less than 2.9%.
· · · In terms of haplogroup frequencies, the Hutsuls are more like their non-Rusyn neighbors (especially Ukrainians) than the Boykos or Lemkos. Meanwhile, Lemkos are most like Romanians and Czechs, and Hutsuls are most like Croatian mainlanders.
· · · The Boykos' haplogroup frequency levels are closest to the Udmurts of the Ural Mountains region in Russia. The authors speculate about an ancestral connection between Boykos and Udmurts not only for this fact but also due to Uralic influences they notice upon the Boykos' facial features.

Krzysztof Rębała, I. Veselinović, D. Siváková, E. Patskun, S. Kravchenko, and Z. Szczerkowska. "Northern Slavs from Serbia do not show a founder effect at autosomal and Y-chromosomal STRs and retain their paternal genetic heritage." Forensic Science International: Genetics 8:1 (January 2014): pages 126-131. First published electronically on September 4, 2013.
      44% of ethnic Rusyns living in Serbia carry the Y-DNA haplogroup R1a. They are called Ruthenians in this study.

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