According to the Hutterite chronicles, the Habans arrived from Austrian Tyrol, Switzerland, and northernmost Italy and stayed in four regions of Slovakia (Sobotište, Vel'ké Leváre, Moravský Svätý Ján, Trenčín). There are some communities in western Slovakia that retained their Haban cultural identity and still identify themselves as descendents of the Hutterite population with their own specific customs. Slovak Habans are typical founder population with significant social isolation for which high degree of inbreeding is typical. Present study investigated STR polymorphisms as a powerful genetic tool for population genetic studies. The aim was to perform a comparative, population genetic study based on 15 STR loci widely used in forensic genetics, of the Haban population, the Slovak majority population and the population of Tyrol. We analyzed allele frequencies and other statistical parameters in three selected populations in order to identify groups of specific ethnic origin and establish their genetic relationship. The data set included 110 unrelated Habans and 201 unrelated individuals from the Slovak majority population, as well as allelic frequencies for the population of Austrian Tyrol available in the literature. Population pairwise FST values used as a short term genetic distance between populations showed significant differentiation between the Habans and both reference populations (FST = 0.0025 and 0.0042 for comparison with the Slovaks and Austrians, respectively; p < 10-3). The Slovak Hutterites were demonstrated to be genetically distinct and more closely related to their geographic neighbors than to their historical ancestral population, which may be at least partially explained by gene flow between neighboring Haban and Slovak populations.
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Vol. 83 • No. 5