STR haplotypes of the Y chromosome are widely used as effective genetic markers in studies of human populations and in forensic DNA analysis. The task often arises to compare the spectrum of haplotypes in individuals or entire populations. Performing this task manually is too laborious and thus unrealistic. We propose an algorithm for counting similarity between STR haplotypes. This algorithm is suitable for massive analyses of samples. It is implemented in the computer program Haplomatch, which makes it possible to find haplotypes that differ from the target haplotype by 0, 1, 2, 3, or more mutational steps. The program may operate in two modes: comparison of individuals and comparison of populations. Flexibility of the program (the possibility of using any external database), its usability (MS Excel spreadsheets are used), and the capability of being applied to other chromosomes and other species could make this software a new useful tool in population genetics and forensic and genealogical studies. The Haplomatch software is freely available on our website www.genofond.ru. The program is applied to studying the gene pool of Cossacks. Experimental analysis of Y-chromosomal diversity in a representative set (N = 131) of Upper Don Cossacks is performed. Analysis of the STR haplotypes detects genetic proximity of Cossacks to East Slavic populations (in particular, to Southern and Central Russians, as well as to Ukrainians), which confirms the hypothesis of the origin of the Cossacks mainly due to immigration from Russia and Ukraine. Also, a small genetic influence of Turkicspeaking Nogais is found, probably caused by their occurrence in the Don Voisko as part of the Tatar layer. No similarities between haplotype spectra of Cossacks and Caucasus populations are found. This case study demonstrates the effectiveness of the Haplomatch software in analyzing large sets of STR haplotypes.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 2, 2016
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