Population and Phylogenetics Research Group at the Department of Genetics and Bioengineering deal with the techniques related to the phylogenetic tree, multi-dimensional genetic distance figure, haplogroup predictions and network analyses. The analysis of both autosomal and Y-chromosomal STRs (short tandem repeats) is the main focus of the scientists and young researchers active in this group. This includes the use of several DNA extraction methods, PCR, capillary electrophoresis, allele detection and designation and statistical data analysis. STRs are the markers of choice in this groups since they exist with different frequencies in different populations and numerous databases containing frequencies of STR loci are available to evaluate the DNA samples. These markers can be used for the human identification purposes and comparative genetic studies among the populations, as well as for paternity testing. In this research group, autosomal STRs are mainly used for obtaining population genetics data about isolated human populations, while Y-STRs are used not only as the source of population information, but also in order to expand YHRD (Y-chromosomal STR Haplotype Reference Database, www.yhrd.org) information on allelic frequencies in populations of interest, to predict Y haplogroups using different in silico assignment algorithms, and to create phylogenetic trees and median-joining networks that would further extend the current state of knowledge on population relatedness and family relationships between the individuals from the same population and/or biogeographic area.
Ongoing research projects are mainly related to Y-STR analysis and Y haplogroup prediction and M-JN creation, while the research projects that are planned to be completed during the present academic year within this research group are including the analysis of local populations using 26 Y-STR loci, as described in Bian et al. (2016), as well to start with mtDNA analysis of the populations of interest through Master and PhD projects of our students. The vision behind this group is to gather scientists interested in phylogenetic and population genetics DNA analysis and to improve the experimental. Our main goal is the promotion of excellence in the research and the completion of the projects that will establish our laboratory as the friendly environment for research in population and phylogenetic analysis, as well as to exploit the international nature of our University which enables us to collect DNA samples and informed consents from the persons belonging to genetically distant populations and thus perform interesting and useful forensic genetic analysis. Furthermore, our goal is to foster the understanding and interest of undergraduate students for the field of population and phylogenetics through the active participation of Population and Phylogenetics Research Group in organization of Population Genetics sessions (the course is taken during the sixth semester in the first study cycle).