Dr. Alexey G. Nikitin's webpage

Research projects

My primary research focus is human population genetics. Most of my research effort is currently in the area of archeogenetics, which traces and quantifies population diversity of past human populations by analyzing DNA extracted from human remains. I work with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which allows tracing the maternal genetic lineage of an individual.

With respect to archeogenetics, my interests are in the area east of the Carpathians and north of the Black Sea (the Ponto-Carpathian region), home to such ancient cultures as Dnipro-Donets of the Neolithic, Trypillia-Cucuteni of the Copper Age, Yamna (Pit-Grave), Catacomb and Babino (KMK) of the Bronze Age, as well as Scythians and other nomadic warrior cultures of the Iron Age.

One of my ongoing archeogenetics projects is devoted to the genetic analysis of the remains of pre-historic occupants of the Carpathian footsteps. The focus of our study is a Neolithic farming culture complex called Trypillia-Cucuteni (TC), which existed on the territory of modern Ukraine, Moldova and Romania, in the VI-III millennium Before Present (BP). We have been working with a team of Ukrainian archeologists on the analysis of human artifacts from a ritual site of TC in western Ukraine called Verteba Cave, to understand the biological origins of Trypillians and their genetic contribution to the genetic pool of modern European inhabitants.

We have recently completed mtDNA analysis of the remains of the Dnipo-Donets (DD) culture complex, a Neolithic hunter-gatherer group from the North Pontic region (the nortern shores of the Black Sea, abbreviated as NPR) to determine the maternal genetic origins of that anthropologically diverse community. Our results so far indicate the presence of both West and East Eurasian mtDNA lineages in the DD population (Nikitin et al., 2012; Lillie et al., 2012).

Another archeogenetic project we are currently pursuing deals with the analysis of
mtDNA lineages of NPR burial mounds (kurgans) from the early Bronze Age (EBA). Along with the genetic investigation, we are dicovering new things about the EBA kurgans in the NPR. Such as, it appears that some of the EBA kurgans were erected on top of existing ritual megalithic structures from the Eneolithic (Copper Age) period, in many cases recycling the stone features of the earlier structures in their burials. Some of these Copper Age constructions were apparenly in use for cosmogonic purposes. Please check back for new information on this new twist in the story of the NPR kurgans.

Another area of my research interests is trout population genetics. A  team of students in my lab has been working on a mtDNA haplotyping project involving Michigan brown trout (Salmo trutta). The goal of the project is to identify mitochondrial genetic lineages of brown trout in Michigan waters and to relate them to specific trout strains from Michigan trout hatcheries as well as their European progenitors. Another goal of this project is to analyze the haplotype-specific survival success of various genetic lineages of brown trout in Michigan lakes and streams to help improve brown trout fisheries management in the state of Michigan.

Recent publicatins by topic


Nikitin AG, Newton JR, Potekhina ID. (2012) Mitochondrial haplogroup C in ancient mitochondrial DNA from Ukraine extends the presence of East Eurasian genetic lineages in Neolithic Central and Eastern Europe. Journal of Human Genetics doi:10.1038/jhg.2012.69.

Ivanova SV, Nikitin AG. (2012) Population dynamics of the steppe cultures of the Eneolithic and Early Bronze Age from the point of view of archaeogenetics. Stratum Plus 2: 1-11.

Lillie M, Potekhina I, Budd C, Nikitin AG. (2012) Prehistoric populations of Ukraine: Migration at the later Mesolithic to Neolithic transition. In: J. Burger, E. Kaiser und W. Schier (Eds.), Population dynamics in Pre- and Early History. New Approaches by using Stable Isotopes and Genetics. Berlin, pp. 79-94.

Nikitin AG. (2011) Bioarcheological analysis of Bronze Age human remains from the Podillya region of Ukraine. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica 2(1): 31-36.

Link to article

Nikitin AG, Sokhatsky MP, Kovaliukh MM, Videiko MY. (2010)
Comprehensive site chronology and ancient mitochondrial DNA analysis from Verteba Cave – a Trypillian culture site of Eneolithic Ukraine. Interdisciplinaria Archaeologica 1(1-2): 9–18, 2010.
Link to article

Kochkin IT, Nikitin AG. (2009) The genetic trail of pre-historic migrations in ethnic Carpathian populations. The Carpathians: People, Ethnos, Civilization 1: 34-36. (In Ukrainian with English summary, Генетичний слід доісторичних міграцій в етнічному населенні Карпат: інформація про гуцулів, лемків, бойків.)
Link to article

Human Population Genetics

Varzari A, Kharkov V, Nikitin AG, Raicu F, Simonova K, Stephan W, Weiss E, Stepanov V. (2013) Paleo-Balkan and Slavic contributions to the genetic pool of Moldavians: Insights from the Y chromosome. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53731. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053731.
Link to article online

Nikitin AG, Kochkin IT, June CM, Willis CM, McBain I, Videiko MY. (2009) Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in Boyko, Hutsul and Lemko populations of Carpathian highlands. Human Biology 81(1): 43-58.
The paper details the analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymorphisms of isolated human populations of the Carpathian Mountain region of Eastern Europe. The goal of this project was to establish whether those populations differ in the frequency of polymorphic patterns of mtDNA (mtDNA haplogroups) from those of populations from other parts of Europe and to examine the reasons for why and how any such difference may have come about.

Link to article (PDF)

Nikitin AG, Berdyshev GD. 2008. The genetic roots of Ukrainian People. Origin of Language and Culture: Ancient History of Mankind 3(2): 40-44. (In Russian, Генетические истоки украинского народа.)
Link to article (PDF)

Population Genetics of North American Brown Trout

Johnson SS, Luttenton MR, Nikitin AG. (2009) Analysis of mitochondrial nucleotide polymorphism in the ND-1 locus in the North American brown trout (Salmo trutta). International Journal of Great Lakes Research 35(1): 163–167.

Tiano TJ, Willis CM, Noble AA, Luttenton MR, Nikitin AG. (2007) Genetic identification of hatchery stocks of brown trout (Salmo trutta) using mitochondrial DNA polymorphism. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 27: 965-970.

Other recent publications


Stickney JA, Nikitin AG, Nikitin GA, Morgan RM. (2010) An efficient enrichment technique for isolation and quantification of indigenous diesel fuel-utilizing bacteria present in freshwater sediments. Journal of Biotech Research 2: 1-11.
Link to article

Physiological and environmental effects of caffeine

Gibson AM, Morgan RM, MacDonald N, Nikitin AG. (2012) Possible effects of the presence of common household chemicals in the environment:  The growth of and aquatic bacterial species on high concentrations of caffeine. Journal of Biotech Research 4: 72-79.
Link to article

Nikitin AG, Navitskas S, Gordon L-AN. (2008) Effect of varying doses of caffeine on lifespan of
Drosophila melanogaster. Journals of Gerontologvy – Biological Sciences 63A(2): 149-150.

Biomedical ethics

Kleibrink EL, Nikitin AG. (2007) Misdiagnosis of chronic pain: A bioethical problem. Michigan Academician 37: 47-54.

Other interests
- Ukrainan pre-historic rock art
   - The Stone Tomb

      - The Cliff of Dovbush

  - Theoretical physics: a new look at the theory of gravitation (click the picture)

Please send comments to nikitin@gvsu.edu
© Alexey G. Nikitin, 2005-2012