The Slavic branch of the Balto-Slavic sub-family of Indo-European languages underwent rapid divergence as a result of the spatial expansion of its speakers from Central-East Europe, in early medieval times. This expansion-mainly to East Europe and the northern Balkans-resulted in the incorporation of genetic components from numerous autochthonous populations into the Slavic gene pools. Here, we characterize genetic variation in all extant ethnic groups speaking Balto-Slavic languages by analyzing mitochondrial DNA (n = 6,876), Y-chromosomes (n = 6,079) and genome-wide SNP profiles (n = 296), within the context of other European populations. We also reassess the phylogeny of Slavic languages within the Balto-Slavic branch of Indo-European. We find that genetic distances among Balto-Slavic populations, based on autosomal and Y-chromosomal loci, show a high correlation (0.9) both with each other and with geography, but a slightly lower correlation (0.7) with mitochondrial DNA and linguistic affiliation. The data suggest that genetic diversity of the present-day Slavs was predominantly shaped in situ, and we detect two different substrata: ‘central-east European’ for West and East Slavs, and ‘south-east European’ for South Slavs. A pattern of distribution of segments identical by descent between groups of East-West and South Slavs suggests shared ancestry or a modest gene flow between those two groups, which might derive from the historic spread of Slavic people.
Newly obtained ages, based on electron spin resonance combined with uranium series isotopic analysis, and infrared/post-infrared luminescence dating, provide a minimum age that lies between 397 and 525 ka for the hominin mandible BH-1 from Mala Balanica cave, Serbia. This confirms it as the easternmost hominin specimen in Europe dated to the Middle Pleistocene. Inferences drawn from the morphology of the mandible BH-1 place it outside currently observed variation of European Homo heidelbergensis. The lack of derived Neandertal traits in BH-1 and its contemporary specimens in Southeast Europe, such as Kocabaş, Vasogliano and Ceprano, coupled with Middle Pleistocene synapomorphies, suggests different evolutionary forces acting in the east of the continent where isolation did not play such an important role during glaciations.
The 2014 European Union (EU) Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was negotiated in a changed policy context, following adoption of the EU’s ‘Smart Regulation’ agenda, which transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) anticipated would increase their influence on health policy, and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which sought to reduce it. This study aims to explore the scale and nature of the TTCs' lobby against the EU TPD and evaluate how these developments have affected their ability to exert influence.
The Romani, the largest European minority group with approximately 11 million people , constitute a mosaic of languages, religions, and lifestyles while sharing a distinct social heritage. Linguistic  and genetic [3-8] studies have located the Romani origins in the Indian subcontinent. However, a genome-wide perspective on Romani origins and population substructure, as well as a detailed reconstruction of their demographic history, has yet to be provided. Our analyses based on genome-wide data from 13 Romani groups collected across Europe suggest that the Romani diaspora constitutes a single initial founder population that originated in north/northwestern India ∼1.5 thousand years ago (kya). Our results further indicate that after a rapid migration with moderate gene flow from the Near or Middle East, the European spread of the Romani people was via the Balkans starting ∼0.9 kya. The strong population substructure and high levels of homozygosity we found in the European Romani are in line with genetic isolation as well as differential gene flow in time and space with non-Romani Europeans. Overall, our genome-wide study sheds new light on the origins and demographic history of European Romani.
To address the illicit cigarette trade, the European Union (EU) has signed agreements with the four major Transnational Tobacco Companies (TTCs) that involve establishing extensive systems of cooperation. All agreements foresee two types of payments: annual payments (totalling US$ 1.9 billion over 20 years) and supplementary seizure payments, equivalent to 100% of the evaded taxes in the event of seizures of their products. While limited by the fundamental lack of transparency in this area, our analysis suggests that these agreements have served largely to secure the TTCs' interests and are threatening progress in tobacco control. The seizure payments are paltry and a wholly inadequate deterrent to TTC involvement in illicit trade. Despite the agreements, growing evidence indicates the TTCs remain involved in the illicit trade or are at best failing to secure their supply chains as required by the agreements. The intention of the seizure-based payments to deter the tobacco industry from further involvement in the illicit cigarette trade has failed because the agreements contain too many loopholes that provide TTCs with both the incentive and opportunity to classify seized cigarettes as counterfeit. In addition, the shifting nature of cigarette smuggling from larger to smaller consignments often results in seizures that are too small to qualify for the payments. Consequently, the seizure payments represent a tiny fraction of the revenue lost from cigarette smuggling, between 2004 and 2012, 0.08% of the estimated losses due to illicit cigarette trade in the EU. Our evidence suggests the EU should end these agreements.
The abnormal hemoglobin (Hb) with an aspartic acid to asparagine substitution at α64 has been found on both the α2- and α1-globin genes. It has been described in many different populations under different names, but never in Bulgaria. Using the recently proposed nomenclature, Hb G-Waimanalo [A1] refers to the HBA1: c.193G > A, while Hb G-Waimanalo [A2] refers to the HBA2: c.193G > A mutation. Here, we present the first family from Bulgaria with Hb G-Waimanalo [A1].
The spread of farming out of the Balkans and into the rest of Europe followed two distinct routes: an initial expansion represented by the Impressa and Cardial traditions, which followed the Northern Mediterranean coastline; and another expansion represented by the LBK tradition, which followed the Danube River into Central Europe. While genomic data now exist from samples representing the second migration, such data have yet to be successfully generated from the initial Mediterranean migration. To address this, we generated the complete genome of a 7,400 year-old Cardial individual (CB13) from Cova Bonica in Vallirana (Barcelona), as well as partial nuclear data from five others excavated from different sites in Spain and Portugal. CB13 clusters with all previously sequenced early European farmers and modern-day Sardinians. Furthermore, our analyses suggest that both Cardial and LBK peoples derived from a common ancient population located in or around the Balkan Peninsula. The Iberian Cardial genome also carries a discernible hunter-gatherer genetic signature that likely was not acquired by admixture with local Iberian foragers. Our results indicate that retrieving ancient genomes from similarly warm Mediterranean environments such as the Near East is technically feasible.
To better define the structure and origin of the Bulgarian paternal gene pool, we have examined the Y-chromosome variation in 808 Bulgarian males. The analysis was performed by high-resolution genotyping of biallelic markers and by analyzing the STR variation within the most informative haplogroups. We found that the Y-chromosome gene pool in modern Bulgarians is primarily represented by Western Eurasian haplogroups with ∼ 40% belonging to haplogroups E-V13 and I-M423, and 20% to R-M17. Haplogroups common in the Middle East (J and G) and in South Western Asia (R-L23*) occur at frequencies of 19% and 5%, respectively. Haplogroups C, N and Q, distinctive for Altaic and Central Asian Turkic-speaking populations, occur at the negligible frequency of only 1.5%. Principal Component analyses group Bulgarians with European populations, apart from Central Asian Turkic-speaking groups and South Western Asia populations. Within the country, the genetic variation is structured in Western, Central and Eastern Bulgaria indicating that the Balkan Mountains have been permeable to human movements. The lineage analysis provided the following interesting results: (i) R-L23* is present in Eastern Bulgaria since the post glacial period; (ii) haplogroup E-V13 has a Mesolithic age in Bulgaria from where it expanded after the arrival of farming; (iii) haplogroup J-M241 probably reflects the Neolithic westward expansion of farmers from the earliest sites along the Black Sea. On the whole, in light of the most recent historical studies, which indicate a substantial proto-Bulgarian input to the contemporary Bulgarian people, our data suggest that a common paternal ancestry between the proto-Bulgarians and the Altaic and Central Asian Turkic-speaking populations either did not exist or was negligible.
Pushed by ongoing conflicts and pulled by the desire for a better life, over one million migrants/refugees transited Balkan countries and arrived in Europe during 2015 and early 2016. To curb this influx, European countries instituted restrictive migration policies often characterized by building of razor-wire border fences and border closures. Among migrants/refugees who received mental health care in Serbia while travelling through Balkan countries to Northern Europe, we assessed the prevalence and patterns of violent events experienced including physical trauma.
We investigated the impact of cigarette price differences across the European Union (EU) on cross-border tobacco purchasing because of cheaper price among current cigarette smokers.