The Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) together with its collaborators has compiled the Finnish Gene Atlas, which contains genome-wide gene marker data for more than 40,000 Finns. The first findings obtained with this collection, which is exceptionally extensive for Europe, pertain to determination of the origin of Finns.
Hundreds of thousands of gene markers make it possible to examine similarities in the genetic architecture of Finns and other European peoples. Use of the Atlas has revealed, for instance, that:
- Finns are unique on the genetic map of Europe; we differ considerably both from Central Europeans and from our neighbours to the east.
- Genetically, Finns have more in common with, for example, the Dutch or Russians living in the area of Murom, to the east of Moscow, than with our linguistic relations, the Hungarians; genetic closeness clearly follows geographic distance more closely than linguistic distance.
- Owing to our settlement history, the genetic differences among Finns are great on both the east/west and north/south axes; the greater the geographic distance is, the greater the genetic differences are. In comparing the Finnish dialect areas, the greatest genetic differences are found between Finns of Southwest Finland and inhabitants of Kuusamo in Northeast Finland.
During 2010 the Finnish Gene Atlas will be supplemented with the first Finns whose whole genome will be fully sequenced.
- The linguistic link between Swedish-speaking Finns living in coastal areas and Swedes is also reflected in the greater genetic closeness of these two groups in comparison with Finnish speakers.