Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)



First Advisor

Dr. Igor Ovchinnikov


Globally, many groups have been subject to studies of genetic variation and structure. However, studies of this sort rarely engage populations in the United States and are often limited to analysis of continental supergroups (European, African American, Hispanic, Native American) that cluster several ancestral origins of diverse genetic and cultural pasts. The aim of this study is to examine the degree of mtDNA variation in the residents of European ancestry living in North Dakota. This state, located in north-central United States, has been relatively recently settled by European migrants of distinct origins who originally formed isolated ethnic enclaves.

Analysis of the mtDNA hypervariable segments of 97 maternally unrelated individuals in North Dakota revealed high diversity and admixture, inferring extensive postsettlement gene flow. A total of 107 polymorphisms defined 88 unique haplotypes. Haplogroups identified are indicative of western Eurasian geographic origin, with HV* and U accounting for nearly 60% of sequences. When compared with European parent populations, the population statistics of North Dakota demonstrated no reduction in mtDNA diversity. Pairwise FsT comparisons revealed minimal differentiation between the North Dakota data set and European populations. Close genetic proximity was observed with three major European groups: Germans, Slavs, and Scandinavians. AMOV A tests provided no significant evidence of genetic structure within the population and suggested less stratification than is observed in European populations. Comparison of genetic data with genealogical records allowed for deduction that the migration led to increased gene flow and a more homogenous genetic structure of maternal ancestries in North Dakota than may have existed among initial settlements.