Csango people are an East–Central European ethnographic group living mostly in the historical region of Moldavia, Romania. Their traditional language, the Csango is an old Hungarian dialect, which is a severely endangered language due to language shift. Their origin is still disputed among experts and there are many hypotheses since the 19th century. Previous genetic studies found connection with ethnic groups living in Hungary and provided evidence which might support their Hungarian origin. Another study found Inner Asian Altaic ancestry in their genetic makeup. The goal of this study was to analyze the genetic characteristics of the Csango people by comparing their genetic characteristics to contemporary Eurasian populations based on genome-wide autosomal marker data. Our findings suggest that genetic affinity of Csangos to Hungarians is more significant than to Romanians. They also have a detectable connection with Central-Asian and Siberian Turkic ethnic groups. Besides the presumable Middle Eastern/Central-Asian Turkic ancestry, Csangos show ~4% Turkic ancestry from Central Asia/Siberia, which makes them unique in comparison to all other East–Central European populations investigated in this study. The admixture that resulted in this Turkic ancestry could have occurred 30–40 generations ago, which date interval corresponds to Hungarian historical events regarding their migration and the conquest of the Carpathian basin.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 print issues and online access
$259.00 per year
only $21.58 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Get just this article for as long as you need it
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Tánczos V. Language shift among the Moldavian Csángós. Cluj-Napoca: Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities; 2012.
Tytti I-A. Csango minority culture in Romania. Committee on culture, science and education. Council of Europe; 2001. http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-DocDetails-EN.asp?FileID=16906&lang=EN.
Lehel P, Tánczos V. Language use, attitudes, strategies. linguistic identity and ethnicity in the Moldavian Csángó villages. Cluj Napoca: ISPMN Publishing; 2012.
Tánczos V. Hungarians in Moldavia. Budapest: Teleki László Foundation. Institute for Central European Studies; 1998.
Baker R. On the origin of the Moldavian Csángós. The Slavonic and East European Review. 1997;75:658–80.
Stroschein S. Ethnic struggle, coexistence, and democratization in Eastern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2012.
Ramet SP. Protestantism and politics in eastern Europe and Russia: the communist and postcommunist eras. vol. 3. Durham, NC: Duke University Press; 1992.
Spinei V. Moldavia in the 11th–14th centuries. Bucureşti, România: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Româna; 1986.
Engel P. The realm of St Stephen: a history of medieval Hungary, 895–1526. London: I.B. Tauris Publishers; 2001.
Guglielmino CR, De Silvestri A, Beres J. Probable ancestors of Hungarian ethnic groups: an admixture analysis. Ann Hum Genet. 2000;64:145–59.
Brandstatter A, Egyed B, Zimmermann B, Duftner N, Padar Z, Parson W. Migration rates and genetic structure of two Hungarian ethnic groups in Transylvania, Romania. Ann Hum Genet. 2007;71:791–803.
Biro A, Feher T, Barany G, Pamjav H. Testing Central and Inner Asian admixture among contemporary Hungarians. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2015;15:121–6.
Hellenthal G, Busby GBJ, Band G, Wilson JF, Capelli C, Falush D, et al. A genetic atlas of human admixture history. Science. 2014;343:747–51.
Curta F. Southeastern Europe in the middle ages, 500–1250. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2006.
Róna-Tas A. Hungarians and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: an introduction to early Hungarian history (Translated by Nicholas Bodoczky). Budapest: CEU Press; 1999.
Langó P. Archaeological research on the conquering Hungarians: a review. In: Research on the prehistory of the Hungarians: review: papers presented at the meetings of the Institute of Archaeology of the HAS, 2003–2004. Budapest: Varia Archaeologica Hungarica 18; 2005. p. 175–340.
Kovács L. Remarks on the archaeological remains of the 9th–10th century Hungarians. In: Research on the prehistory of the Hungarians: review: papers presented at the meetings of the Institute of Archaeology of the HAS, 2003–2004. Budapest: Varia Archaeologica Hungarica 18; 2005. p. 351–68.
Tóth SL. The Qavars (Qabars) and their role in the Hungarian Tribal Federation. Chronica. 2016;12:3–22.
Sugar PF, Hanák P, Frank T. A history of Hungary. Bloomington, IN, USA: Indiana University Press; 1990.
Vásáry I. Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185–1365. 1st ed. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2005.
Golden PB. The peoples of the south Russian steppes. In: The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. New York: Cambridge University Press; 1990.
Purcell S, Neale B, Todd-Brown K, Thomas L, Ferreira MA, Bender D, et al. PLINK: a tool set for whole-genome association and population-based linkage analyses. Am J Hum Genet. 2007;81:559–75.
Chang CC, Chow CC, Tellier LC, Vattikuti S, Purcell SM, Lee JJ. Second-generation PLINK: rising to the challenge of larger and richer datasets. Gigascience. 2015;4:7.
Frazer KA, Ballinger DG, Cox DR, Hinds DA, Stuve LL, Gibbs RA, et al. A second generation human haplotype map of over 3.1 million SNPs. Nature. 2007;449:851–61.
Altshuler DM, Gibbs RA, Peltonen L, Altshuler DM, Gibbs RA, Peltonen L, et al. Integrating common and rare genetic variation in diverse human populations. Nature. 2010;467:52–8.
Cann HM, de Toma C, Cazes L, Legrand M-F, Morel V, Piouffre L, et al. A human genome diversity cell line panel. Science. 2002;296:261–2.
Rosenberg NA, Mahajan S, Ramachandran S, Zhao C, Pritchard JK, Feldman MW. Clines, clusters, and the effect of study design on the inference of human population structure. PLoS Genet. 2005;1:e70.
Yunusbayev B, Metspalu M, Jarve M, Kutuev I, Rootsi S, Metspalu E, et al. The Caucasus as an asymmetric semipermeable barrier to ancient human migrations. Mol Biol Evol. 2012;29:359–65.
Behar DM, Yunusbayev B, Metspalu M, Metspalu E, Rosset S, Parik J, et al. The genome-wide structure of the Jewish people. Nature. 2010;466:238–42.
Kovacevic L, Tambets K, Ilumae A-M, Kushniarevich A, Yunusbayev B, Solnik A, et al. Standing at the gateway to Europe—the genetic structure of Western balkan populations based on autosomal and haploid markers. PLoS ONE. 2014;9:e105090.
Kushniarevich A, Utevska O, Chuhryaeva M, Agdzhoyan A, Dibirova K, Uktveryte I, et al. Genetic heritage of the Balto-Slavic speaking populations: a synthesis of autosomal, mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal data. PLoS ONE. 2015;10:e0135820.
Behar DM, Metspalu M, Baran Y, Kopelman NM, Yunusbayev B, Gladstein A, et al. No evidence from genome-wide data of a Khazar origin for the Ashkenazi Jews. Hum Biol. 2013;85:859–900.
Yunusbayev B, Metspalu M, Metspalu E, Valeev A, Litvinov S, Valiev R, et al. The genetic legacy of the expansion of Turkic-speaking nomads across Eurasia. PLoS Genet. 2015;11:e1005068.
Patterson N, Price AL, Reich D. Population structure and eigenanalysis. PLoS Genet. 2006;2:e190.
Alexander DH, Novembre J, Lange K. Fast model-based estimation of ancestry in unrelated individuals. Genome Res. 2009;19:1655–64.
Pickrell JK, Pritchard JK. Inference of population splits and mixtures from genome-wide allele frequency data. PLoS Genet. 2012;8:e1002967.
Patterson N, Moorjani P, Luo Y, Mallick S, Rohland N, Zhan Y, et al. Ancient admixture in human history. Genetics. 2012;192:1065–93.
Browning BL, Browning SR. Improving the accuracy and efficiency of identity-by-descent detection in population data. Genetics. 2013;194:459–71.
Purcell S. PLINK/SEQ: a library for the analysis of genetic variation data. 2014. https://atgu.mgh.harvard.edu/plinkseq.
Atzmon G, Hao L, Pe’er I, Velez C, Pearlman A, Palamara PF, et al. Abraham’s children in the genome era: major Jewish diaspora populations comprise distinct genetic clusters with shared Middle Eastern Ancestry. Am J Hum Genet. 2010;86:850–9.
Loh PR, Lipson M, Patterson N, Moorjani P, Pickrell JK, Reich D, et al. Inferring admixture histories of human populations using linkage disequilibrium. Genetics. 2013;193:1233–54.
Nathans E. The politics of citizenship in Germany: ethnicity, utility and nationalism. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers; 2004.
Semino O, Passarino G, Oefner PJ, Lin AA, Arbuzova S, Beckman LE, et al. The genetic legacy of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens in extant Europeans: a Y chromosome perspective. Science. 2000;290:1155–9.
Fenner JN. Cross-cultural estimation of the human generation interval for use in genetics-based population divergence studies. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2005;128:415–23.
Banfai Z, Melegh BI, Sumegi K, Hadzsiev K, Miseta A, Kasler M, et al. Revealing the genetic impact of the Ottoman occupation on ethnic groups of East–Central Europe and on the Roma population of the area. Front Genet. 2019;10:558.
The present scientific contribution is dedicated to the 650th anniversary of the foundation of the University of Pécs, Hungary. This study was supported by the National Scientific Research Program (NKFI) K 119540. This study was supported by the Research University Resource, Institutional Excellence Grant 2016.; Center for Excellence—Center of Molecular Medicine; GINOP-2.3.2-15-2016-00039; Grant Manager: Ministry of Human Resources, Hungary. This study was supported by the Human Resources Development Operational Program, Ministry of Human Resources, Hungary and by the Medical School of University of Pécs; EFOP-3.6.3-VEKOP-16-2017-00009 and EFOP-3.6.1-16-2016-00004.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Ádám, V., Bánfai, Z., Maász, A. et al. Investigating the genetic characteristics of the Csangos, a traditionally Hungarian speaking ethnic group residing in Romania. J Hum Genet 65, 1093–1103 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-0799-6