College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Yakuts mtDNA Project

Over the past two decades, there has been a multitude of scientific studies analyzing human genetic variation, in particular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), as a means of reconstructing human evolutionary history. But how reliable are these reconstructions? Can genetic data be used to accurately identify close evolutionary relationships between human populations; reveal genetic signatures related to demographic episodes of population growth and contraction; and date peopling and expansion events?

The Yakut mtDNA Research Project, conducted by the LBA at the University of Kansas (Mark Zlojutro and Dr. Michael H. Crawford) and other research groups from both the United States and Russia, examined these questions by characterizing mtDNA variation in a population with a well understood origin and historical demography – the Turkic-speaking Yakuts of northeastern Siberia.

Yakut family herding cattle (Novosibirsk Regional Studies Museum)