Investigating the genetic characteristics of the Csangos, a traditionally Hungarian speaking ethnic group residing in Romania

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Zsolt Bánfai or Béla Melegh.

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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 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-0799-6

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