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1.  Maternal Footprints of Southeast Asians in North India 
Human Heredity  2008;66(1):1-9.
We have analyzed 7,137 samples from 125 different caste, tribal and religious groups of India and 99 samples from three populations of Nepal for the length variation in the COII/tRNALys region of mtDNA. Samples showing length variation were subjected to detailed phylogenetic analysis based on HVS-I and informative coding region sequence variation. The overall frequencies of the 9-bp deletion and insertion variants in South Asia were 1.9 and 0.6%, respectively. We have also defined a novel deep-rooting haplogroup M43 and identified the rare haplogroup H14 in Indian populations carrying the 9-bp deletion by complete mtDNA sequencing. Moreover, we redefined haplogroup M6 and dissected it into two well-defined subclades. The presence of haplogroups F1 and B5a in Uttar Pradesh suggests minor maternal contribution from Southeast Asia to Northern India. The occurrence of haplogroup F1 in the Nepalese sample implies that Nepal might have served as a bridge for the flow of eastern lineages to India. The presence of R6 in the Nepalese, on the other hand, suggests that the gene flow between India and Nepal has been reciprocal.
PMCID: PMC2588665  PMID: 18223312
South Asia; 9bp indel; mtDNA; Haplogroup
2.  Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in South and Southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans 
BMC Genetics  2004;5:26.
Recent advances in the understanding of the maternal and paternal heritage of south and southwest Asian populations have highlighted their role in the colonization of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans. Further understanding requires a deeper insight into the topology of the branches of the Indian mtDNA phylogenetic tree, which should be contextualized within the phylogeography of the neighboring regional mtDNA variation. Accordingly, we have analyzed mtDNA control and coding region variation in 796 Indian (including both tribal and caste populations from different parts of India) and 436 Iranian mtDNAs. The results were integrated and analyzed together with published data from South, Southeast Asia and West Eurasia.
Four new Indian-specific haplogroup M sub-clades were defined. These, in combination with two previously described haplogroups, encompass approximately one third of the haplogroup M mtDNAs in India. Their phylogeography and spread among different linguistic phyla and social strata was investigated in detail. Furthermore, the analysis of the Iranian mtDNA pool revealed patterns of limited reciprocal gene flow between Iran and the Indian sub-continent and allowed the identification of different assemblies of shared mtDNA sub-clades.
Since the initial peopling of South and West Asia by anatomically modern humans, when this region may well have provided the initial settlers who colonized much of the rest of Eurasia, the gene flow in and out of India of the maternally transmitted mtDNA has been surprisingly limited. Specifically, our analysis of the mtDNA haplogroups, which are shared between Indian and Iranian populations and exhibit coalescence ages corresponding to around the early Upper Paleolithic, indicates that they are present in India largely as Indian-specific sub-lineages. In contrast, other ancient Indian-specific variants of M and R are very rare outside the sub-continent.
PMCID: PMC516768  PMID: 15339343
3.  Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome diversity of the Tharus (Nepal): a reservoir of genetic variation 
Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent represent an area considered as a source and a reservoir for human genetic diversity, with many markers taking root here, most of which are the ancestral state of eastern and western haplogroups, while others are local. Between these two regions, Terai (Nepal) is a pivotal passageway allowing, in different times, multiple population interactions, although because of its highly malarial environment, it was scarcely inhabited until a few decades ago, when malaria was eradicated. One of the oldest and the largest indigenous people of Terai is represented by the malaria resistant Tharus, whose gene pool could still retain traces of ancient complex interactions. Until now, however, investigations on their genetic structure have been scarce mainly identifying East Asian signatures.
High-resolution analyses of mitochondrial-DNA (including 34 complete sequences) and Y-chromosome (67 SNPs and 12 STRs) variations carried out in 173 Tharus (two groups from Central and one from Eastern Terai), and 104 Indians (Hindus from Terai and New Delhi and tribals from Andhra Pradesh) allowed the identification of three principal components: East Asian, West Eurasian and Indian, the last including both local and inter-regional sub-components, at least for the Y chromosome.
Although remarkable quantitative and qualitative differences appear among the various population groups and also between sexes within the same group, many mitochondrial-DNA and Y-chromosome lineages are shared or derived from ancient Indian haplogroups, thus revealing a deep shared ancestry between Tharus and Indians. Interestingly, the local Y-chromosome Indian component observed in the Andhra-Pradesh tribals is present in all Tharu groups, whereas the inter-regional component strongly prevails in the two Hindu samples and other Nepalese populations.
The complete sequencing of mtDNAs from unresolved haplogroups also provided informative markers that greatly improved the mtDNA phylogeny and allowed the identification of ancient relationships between Tharus and Malaysia, the Andaman Islands and Japan as well as between India and North and East Africa. Overall, this study gives a paradigmatic example of the importance of genetic isolates in revealing variants not easily detectable in the general population.
PMCID: PMC2720951  PMID: 19573232
4.  Updating Phylogeny of Mitochondrial DNA Macrohaplogroup M in India: Dispersal of Modern Human in South Asian Corridor 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7447.
To construct maternal phylogeny and prehistoric dispersals of modern human being in the Indian sub continent, a diverse subset of 641 complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes belonging to macrohaplogroup M was chosen from a total collection of 2,783 control-region sequences, sampled from 26 selected tribal populations of India. On the basis of complete mtDNA sequencing, we identified 12 new haplogroups - M53 to M64; redefined/ascertained and characterized haplogroups M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M8′C′Z, M9, M10, M11, M12-G, D, M18, M30, M33, M35, M37, M38, M39, M40, M41, M43, M45 and M49, which were previously described by control and/or coding-region polymorphisms. Our results indicate that the mtDNA lineages reported in the present study (except East Asian lineages M8′C′Z, M9, M10, M11, M12-G, D ) are restricted to Indian region.The deep rooted lineages of macrohaplogroup ‘M’ suggest in-situ origin of these haplogroups in India. Most of these deep rooting lineages are represented by multiple ethnic/linguist groups of India. Hierarchical analysis of molecular variation (AMOVA) shows substantial subdivisions among the tribes of India (Fst = 0.16164). The current Indian mtDNA gene pool was shaped by the initial settlers and was galvanized by minor events of gene flow from the east and west to the restricted zones. Northeast Indian mtDNA pool harbors region specific lineages, other Indian lineages and East Asian lineages. We also suggest the establishment of an East Asian gene in North East India through admixture rather than replacement.
PMCID: PMC2757894  PMID: 19823670
5.  Traces of Archaic Mitochondrial Lineages Persist in Austronesian-Speaking Formosan Populations 
PLoS Biology  2005;3(8):e247.
Genetic affinities between aboriginal Taiwanese and populations from Oceania and Southeast Asia have previously been explored through analyses of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosomal DNA, and human leukocyte antigen loci. Recent genetic studies have supported the “slow boat” and “entangled bank” models according to which the Polynesian migration can be seen as an expansion from Melanesia without any major direct genetic thread leading back to its initiation from Taiwan. We assessed mtDNA variation in 640 individuals from nine tribes of the central mountain ranges and east coast regions of Taiwan. In contrast to the Han populations, the tribes showed a low frequency of haplogroups D4 and G, and an absence of haplogroups A, C, Z, M9, and M10. Also, more than 85% of the maternal lineages were nested within haplogroups B4, B5a, F1a, F3b, E, and M7. Although indicating a common origin of the populations of insular Southeast Asia and Oceania, most mtDNA lineages in Taiwanese aboriginal populations are grouped separately from those found in China and the Taiwan general (Han) population, suggesting a prevalence in the Taiwanese aboriginal gene pool of its initial late Pleistocene settlers. Interestingly, from complete mtDNA sequencing information, most B4a lineages were associated with three coding region substitutions, defining a new subclade, B4a1a, that endorses the origin of Polynesian migration from Taiwan. Coalescence times of B4a1a were 13.2 ± 3.8 thousand years (or 9.3 ± 2.5 thousand years in Papuans and Polynesians). Considering the lack of a common specific Y chromosomal element shared by the Taiwanese aboriginals and Polynesians, the mtDNA evidence provided here is also consistent with the suggestion that the proto-Oceanic societies would have been mainly matrilocal.
An extensive phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA from nine Taiwanese tribes reveals an unambiguous genetic link between aboriginal Taiwanese and Polynesian populations, to the exclusion of mainland Asians.
PMCID: PMC1166350  PMID: 15984912
6.  Origin and Post-Glacial Dispersal of Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups C and D in Northern Asia 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15214.
More than a half of the northern Asian pool of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is fragmented into a number of subclades of haplogroups C and D, two of the most frequent haplogroups throughout northern, eastern, central Asia and America. While there has been considerable recent progress in studying mitochondrial variation in eastern Asia and America at the complete genome resolution, little comparable data is available for regions such as southern Siberia – the area where most of northern Asian haplogroups, including C and D, likely diversified. This gap in our knowledge causes a serious barrier for progress in understanding the demographic pre-history of northern Eurasia in general. Here we describe the phylogeography of haplogroups C and D in the populations of northern and eastern Asia. We have analyzed 770 samples from haplogroups C and D (174 and 596, respectively) at high resolution, including 182 novel complete mtDNA sequences representing haplogroups C and D (83 and 99, respectively). The present-day variation of haplogroups C and D suggests that these mtDNA clades expanded before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), with their oldest lineages being present in the eastern Asia. Unlike in eastern Asia, most of the northern Asian variants of haplogroups C and D began the expansion after the LGM, thus pointing to post-glacial re-colonization of northern Asia. Our results show that both haplogroups were involved in migrations, from eastern Asia and southern Siberia to eastern and northeastern Europe, likely during the middle Holocene.
PMCID: PMC3006427  PMID: 21203537
7.  Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the Indian peninsula 
Human genetic diversity observed in Indian subcontinent is second only to that of Africa. This implies an early settlement and demographic growth soon after the first 'Out-of-Africa' dispersal of anatomically modern humans in Late Pleistocene. In contrast to this perspective, linguistic diversity in India has been thought to derive from more recent population movements and episodes of contact. With the exception of Dravidian, which origin and relatedness to other language phyla is obscure, all the language families in India can be linked to language families spoken in different regions of Eurasia. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome evidence has supported largely local evolution of the genetic lineages of the majority of Dravidian and Indo-European speaking populations, but there is no consensus yet on the question of whether the Munda (Austro-Asiatic) speaking populations originated in India or derive from a relatively recent migration from further East.
Here, we report the analysis of 35 novel complete mtDNA sequences from India which refine the structure of Indian-specific varieties of haplogroup R. Detailed analysis of haplogroup R7, coupled with a survey of ~12,000 mtDNAs from caste and tribal groups over the entire Indian subcontinent, reveals that one of its more recently derived branches (R7a1), is particularly frequent among Munda-speaking tribal groups. This branch is nested within diverse R7 lineages found among Dravidian and Indo-European speakers of India. We have inferred from this that a subset of Munda-speaking groups have acquired R7 relatively recently. Furthermore, we find that the distribution of R7a1 within the Munda-speakers is largely restricted to one of the sub-branches (Kherwari) of northern Munda languages. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that the Austro-Asiatic speakers are the primary source of the R7 variation. Statistical analyses suggest a significant correlation between genetic variation and geography, rather than between genes and languages.
Our high-resolution phylogeographic study, involving diverse linguistic groups in India, suggests that the high frequency of mtDNA haplogroup R7 among Munda speaking populations of India can be explained best by gene flow from linguistically different populations of Indian subcontinent. The conclusion is based on the observation that among Indo-Europeans, and particularly in Dravidians, the haplogroup is, despite its lower frequency, phylogenetically more divergent, while among the Munda speakers only one sub-clade of R7, i.e. R7a1, can be observed. It is noteworthy that though R7 is autochthonous to India, and arises from the root of hg R, its distribution and phylogeography in India is not uniform. This suggests the more ancient establishment of an autochthonous matrilineal genetic structure, and that isolation in the Pleistocene, lineage loss through drift, and endogamy of prehistoric and historic groups have greatly inhibited genetic homogenization and geographical uniformity.
PMCID: PMC2529308  PMID: 18680585
8.  In situ origin of deep rooting lineages of mitochondrial Macrohaplogroup 'M' in India 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:151.
Macrohaplogroups 'M' and 'N' have evolved almost in parallel from a founder haplogroup L3. Macrohaplogroup N in India has already been defined in previous studies and recently the macrohaplogroup M among the Indian populations has been characterized. In this study, we attempted to reconstruct and re-evaluate the phylogeny of Macrohaplogroup M, which harbors more than 60% of the Indian mtDNA lineage, and to shed light on the origin of its deep rooting haplogroups.
Using 11 whole mtDNA and 2231 partial coding sequence of Indian M lineage selected from 8670 HVS1 sequences across India, we have reconstructed the tree including Andamanese-specific lineage M31 and calculated the time depth of all the nodes. We defined one novel haplogroup M41, and revised the classification of haplogroups M3, M18, and M31.
Our result indicates that the Indian mtDNA pool consists of several deep rooting lineages of macrohaplogroup 'M' suggesting in-situ origin of these haplogroups in South Asia, most likely in the India. These deep rooting lineages are not language specific and spread over all the language groups in India. Moreover, our reanalysis of the Andamanese-specific lineage M31 suggests population specific two clear-cut subclades (M31a1 and M31a2). Onge and Jarwa share M31a1 branch while M31a2 clade is present in only Great Andamanese individuals. Overall our study supported the one wave, rapid dispersal theory of modern humans along the Asian coast.
PMCID: PMC1534032  PMID: 16776823
9.  Deep Rooting In-Situ Expansion of mtDNA Haplogroup R8 in South Asia 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6545.
The phylogeny of the indigenous Indian-specific mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups have been determined and refined in previous reports. Similar to mtDNA superhaplogroups M and N, a profusion of reports are also available for superhaplogroup R. However, there is a dearth of information on South Asian subhaplogroups in particular, including R8. Therefore, we ought to access the genealogy and pre-historic expansion of haplogroup R8 which is considered one of the autochthonous lineages of South Asia.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Upon screening the mtDNA of 5,836 individuals belonging to 104 distinct ethnic populations of the Indian subcontinent, we found 54 individuals with the HVS-I motif that defines the R8 haplogroup. Complete mtDNA sequencing of these 54 individuals revealed two deep-rooted subclades: R8a and R8b. Furthermore, these subclades split into several fine subclades. An isofrequency contour map detected the highest frequency of R8 in the state of Orissa. Spearman's rank correlation analysis suggests significant correlation of R8 occurrence with geography.
The coalescent age of newly-characterized subclades of R8, R8a (15.4±7.2 Kya) and R8b (25.7±10.2 Kya) indicates that the initial maternal colonization of this haplogroup occurred during the middle and upper Paleolithic period, roughly around 40 to 45 Kya. These results signify that the southern part of Orissa currently inhabited by Munda speakers is likely the origin of these autochthonous maternal deep-rooted haplogroups. Our high-resolution study on the genesis of R8 haplogroup provides ample evidence of its deep-rooted ancestry among the Orissa (Austro-Asiatic) tribes.
PMCID: PMC2718812  PMID: 19662095
10.  Autosomal and uniparental portraits of the native populations of Sakha (Yakutia): implications for the peopling of Northeast Eurasia 
Sakha – an area connecting South and Northeast Siberia – is significant for understanding the history of peopling of Northeast Eurasia and the Americas. Previous studies have shown a genetic contiguity between Siberia and East Asia and the key role of South Siberia in the colonization of Siberia.
We report the results of a high-resolution phylogenetic analysis of 701 mtDNAs and 318 Y chromosomes from five native populations of Sakha (Yakuts, Evenks, Evens, Yukaghirs and Dolgans) and of the analysis of more than 500,000 autosomal SNPs of 758 individuals from 55 populations, including 40 previously unpublished samples from Siberia. Phylogenetically terminal clades of East Asian mtDNA haplogroups C and D and Y-chromosome haplogroups N1c, N1b and C3, constituting the core of the gene pool of the native populations from Sakha, connect Sakha and South Siberia. Analysis of autosomal SNP data confirms the genetic continuity between Sakha and South Siberia. Maternal lineages D5a2a2, C4a1c, C4a2, C5b1b and the Yakut-specific STR sub-clade of Y-chromosome haplogroup N1c can be linked to a migration of Yakut ancestors, while the paternal lineage C3c was most likely carried to Sakha by the expansion of the Tungusic people. MtDNA haplogroups Z1a1b and Z1a3, present in Yukaghirs, Evens and Dolgans, show traces of different and probably more ancient migration(s). Analysis of both haploid loci and autosomal SNP data revealed only minor genetic components shared between Sakha and the extreme Northeast Siberia. Although the major part of West Eurasian maternal and paternal lineages in Sakha could originate from recent admixture with East Europeans, mtDNA haplogroups H8, H20a and HV1a1a, as well as Y-chromosome haplogroup J, more probably reflect an ancient gene flow from West Eurasia through Central Asia and South Siberia.
Our high-resolution phylogenetic dissection of mtDNA and Y-chromosome haplogroups as well as analysis of autosomal SNP data suggests that Sakha was colonized by repeated expansions from South Siberia with minor gene flow from the Lower Amur/Southern Okhotsk region and/or Kamchatka. The minor West Eurasian component in Sakha attests to both recent and ongoing admixture with East Europeans and an ancient gene flow from West Eurasia.
PMCID: PMC3695835  PMID: 23782551
mtDNA; Y chromosome; Autosomal SNPs; Sakha
11.  Indian Ocean Crossroads: Human Genetic Origin and Population Structure in the Maldives 
The Maldives are an 850 km-long string of atolls located centrally in the northern Indian Ocean basin. Because of this geographic situation, the present-day Maldivian population has potential for uncovering genetic signatures of historic migration events in the region. We therefore studied autosomal DNA-, mitochondrial DNA-, and Y-chromosomal DNA markers in a representative sample of 141 unrelated Maldivians, with 119 from six major settlements. We found a total of 63 different mtDNA haplotypes that could be allocated to 29 mtDNA haplogroups, mostly within the M, R, and U clades. We found 66 different Y-STR haplotypes in 10 Y-chromosome haplogroups, predominantly H1, J2, L, R1a1a, and R2. Parental admixture analysis for mtDNA- and Y-haplogroup data indicates a strong genetic link between the Maldive Islands and mainland South Asia, and excludes significant gene flow from Southeast Asia. Paternal admixture from West Asia is detected, but cannot be distinguished from admixture from South Asia. Maternal admixture from West Asia is excluded. Within the Maldives, we find a subtle genetic substructure in all marker systems that is not directly related to geographic distance or linguistic dialect. We found reduced Y-STR diversity and reduced male-mediated gene flow between atolls, suggesting independent male founder effects for each atoll. Detected reduced female-mediated gene flow between atolls confirms a Maldives-specific history of matrilocality. In conclusion, our new genetic data agree with the commonly reported Maldivian ancestry in South Asia, but furthermore suggest multiple, independent immigration events and asymmetrical migration of females and males across the archipelago. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:58–67, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3652038  PMID: 23526367
Y chromosome; mitochondrial DNA; migration; Indo-Aryan languages; South Asia
12.  Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations 
The Austro-Asiatic linguistic family, which is considered to be the oldest of all the families in India, has a substantial presence in Southeast Asia. However, the possibility of any genetic link among the linguistic sub-families of the Indian Austro-Asiatics on the one hand and between the Indian and the Southeast Asian Austro-Asiatics on the other has not been explored till now. Therefore, to trace the origin and historic expansion of Austro-Asiatic groups of India, we analysed Y-chromosome SNP and STR data of the 1222 individuals from 25 Indian populations, covering all the three branches of Austro-Asiatic tribes, viz. Mundari, Khasi-Khmuic and Mon-Khmer, along with the previously published data on 214 relevant populations from Asia and Oceania.
Our results suggest a strong paternal genetic link, not only among the subgroups of Indian Austro-Asiatic populations but also with those of Southeast Asia. However, maternal link based on mtDNA is not evident. The results also indicate that the haplogroup O-M95 had originated in the Indian Austro-Asiatic populations ~65,000 yrs BP (95% C.I. 25,442 – 132,230) and their ancestors carried it further to Southeast Asia via the Northeast Indian corridor. Subsequently, in the process of expansion, the Mon-Khmer populations from Southeast Asia seem to have migrated and colonized Andaman and Nicobar Islands at a much later point of time.
Our findings are consistent with the linguistic evidence, which suggests that the linguistic ancestors of the Austro-Asiatic populations have originated in India and then migrated to Southeast Asia.
PMCID: PMC1851701  PMID: 17389048
13.  The Multifaceted Origin of Taurine Cattle Reflected by the Mitochondrial Genome 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5753.
A Neolithic domestication of taurine cattle in the Fertile Crescent from local aurochsen (Bos primigenius) is generally accepted, but a genetic contribution from European aurochsen has been proposed. Here we performed a survey of a large number of taurine cattle mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control regions from numerous European breeds confirming the overall clustering within haplogroups (T1, T2 and T3) of Near Eastern ancestry, but also identifying eight mtDNAs (1.3%) that did not fit in haplogroup T. Sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome showed that four mtDNAs formed a novel branch (haplogroup R) which, after the deep bifurcation that gave rise to the taurine and zebuine lineages, constitutes the earliest known split in the mtDNA phylogeny of B. primigenius. The remaining four mtDNAs were members of the recently discovered haplogroup Q. Phylogeographic data indicate that R mtDNAs were derived from female European aurochsen, possibly in the Italian Peninsula, and sporadically included in domestic herds. In contrast, the available data suggest that Q mtDNAs and T subclades were involved in the same Neolithic event of domestication in the Near East. Thus, the existence of novel (and rare) taurine haplogroups highlights a multifaceted genetic legacy from distinct B. primigenius populations. Taking into account that the maternally transmitted mtDNA tends to underestimate the extent of gene flow from European aurochsen, the detection of the R mtDNAs in autochthonous breeds, some of which are endangered, identifies an unexpected reservoir of genetic variation that should be carefully preserved.
PMCID: PMC2684589  PMID: 19484124
14.  Insights into the Genetic Structure and Diversity of 38 South Asian Indians from Deep Whole-Genome Sequencing 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(5):e1004377.
South Asia possesses a significant amount of genetic diversity due to considerable intergroup differences in culture and language. There have been numerous reports on the genetic structure of Asian Indians, although these have mostly relied on genotyping microarrays or targeted sequencing of the mitochondria and Y chromosomes. Asian Indians in Singapore are primarily descendants of immigrants from Dravidian-language–speaking states in south India, and 38 individuals from the general population underwent deep whole-genome sequencing with a target coverage of 30X as part of the Singapore Sequencing Indian Project (SSIP). The genetic structure and diversity of these samples were compared against samples from the Singapore Sequencing Malay Project and populations in Phase 1 of the 1,000 Genomes Project (1 KGP). SSIP samples exhibited greater intra-population genetic diversity and possessed higher heterozygous-to-homozygous genotype ratio than other Asian populations. When compared against a panel of well-defined Asian Indians, the genetic makeup of the SSIP samples was closely related to South Indians. However, even though the SSIP samples clustered distinctly from the Europeans in the global population structure analysis with autosomal SNPs, eight samples were assigned to mitochondrial haplogroups that were predominantly present in Europeans and possessed higher European admixture than the remaining samples. An analysis of the relative relatedness between SSIP with two archaic hominins (Denisovan, Neanderthal) identified higher ancient admixture in East Asian populations than in SSIP. The data resource for these samples is publicly available and is expected to serve as a valuable complement to the South Asian samples in Phase 3 of 1 KGP.
Author Summary
Indians of South Asia has long been a population of interest to a wide audience, due to its unique diversity. We have deep-sequenced 38 individuals of Indian descent residing in Singapore (SSIP) in an effort to illustrate their diversity from a whole-genome standpoint. Indeed, among Asians in our population panel, SSIP was most diverse, followed by the Malays in Singapore (SSMP). Their diversity is further observed in the population's chromosome Y haplogroup and mitochondria haplogroup profiles; individuals with European-dominant haplogroups had greater proportion of European admixture. Among variants (single nucleotide polymorphism and small insertions/deletions) discovered in SSIP, 21.69% were novel with respect to previous sequencing projects. In addition, some 14 loss-of-function variants (LOFs) were associated to cancer, Type II diabetes, and cholesterol levels. Finally, D statistic test with ancient hominids concurred that there was gene flow to East Asians compared to South Asians.
PMCID: PMC4022468  PMID: 24832686
15.  The Influence of Natural Barriers in Shaping the Genetic Structure of Maharashtra Populations 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15283.
The geographical position of Maharashtra state makes it rather essential to study the dispersal of modern humans in South Asia. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the cultural, linguistic and geographical affinity of the populations living in Maharashtra state with other South Asian populations. The genetic origin of populations living in this state is poorly understood and hitherto been described at low molecular resolution level.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To address this issue, we have analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 185 individuals and NRY (non-recombining region of Y chromosome) of 98 individuals belonging to two major tribal populations of Maharashtra, and compared their molecular variations with that of 54 South Asian contemporary populations of adjacent states. Inter and intra population comparisons reveal that the maternal gene pool of Maharashtra state populations is composed of mainly South Asian haplogroups with traces of east and west Eurasian haplogroups, while the paternal haplogroups comprise the South Asian as well as signature of near eastern specific haplogroup J2a.
Our analysis suggests that Indian populations, including Maharashtra state, are largely derived from Paleolithic ancient settlers; however, a more recent (∼10 Ky older) detectable paternal gene flow from west Asia is well reflected in the present study. These findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra through the western coast rather than mainland where Western Ghats-Vindhya Mountains and Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier. Comparing the Maharastrian populations with other South Asian populations reveals that they have a closer affinity with the South Indian than with the Central Indian populations.
PMCID: PMC3004917  PMID: 21187967
16.  Tracing the legacy of the early Hainan Islanders - a perspective from mitochondrial DNA 
Hainan Island is located around the conjunction of East Asia and Southeast Asia, and during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) was connected with the mainland. This provided an opportunity for the colonization of Hainan Island by modern human in the Upper Pleistocene. Whether the ancient dispersal left any footprints in the contemporary gene pool of Hainan islanders is debatable.
We collected samples from 285 Li individuals and analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variations of hypervariable sequence I and II (HVS-I and II), as well as partial coding regions. By incorporating previously reported data, the phylogeny of Hainan islanders was reconstructed. We found that Hainan islanders showed a close relationship with the populations in mainland southern China, especially from Guangxi. Haplotype sharing analyses suggested that the recent gene flow from the mainland might play important roles in shaping the maternal pool of Hainan islanders. More importantly, haplogroups M12, M7e, and M7c1* might represent the genetic relics of the ancient population that populated this region; thus, 14 representative complete mtDNA genomes were further sequenced.
The detailed phylogeographic analyses of haplogroups M12, M7e, and M7c1* indicated that the early peopling of Hainan Island by modern human could be traced back to the early Holocene and/or even the late Upper Pleistocene, around 7 - 27 kya. These results correspond to both Y-chromosome and archaeological studies.
PMCID: PMC3048540  PMID: 21324107
17.  Ancient mtDNA Genetic Variants Modulate mtDNA Transcription and Replication 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(5):e1000474.
Although the functional consequences of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genetic backgrounds (haplotypes, haplogroups) have been demonstrated by both disease association studies and cell culture experiments, it is not clear which of the mutations within the haplogroup carry functional implications and which are “evolutionary silent hitchhikers”. We set forth to study the functionality of haplogroup-defining mutations within the mtDNA transcription/replication regulatory region by in vitro transcription, hypothesizing that haplogroup-defining mutations occurring within regulatory motifs of mtDNA could affect these processes. We thus screened >2500 complete human mtDNAs representing all major populations worldwide for natural variation in experimentally established protein binding sites and regulatory regions comprising a total of 241 bp in each mtDNA. Our screen revealed 77/241 sites showing point mutations that could be divided into non-fixed (57/77, 74%) and haplogroup/sub-haplogroup-defining changes (i.e., population fixed changes, 20/77, 26%). The variant defining Caucasian haplogroup J (C295T) increased the binding of TFAM (Electro Mobility Shift Assay) and the capacity of in vitro L-strand transcription, especially of a shorter transcript that maps immediately upstream of conserved sequence block 1 (CSB1), a region associated with RNA priming of mtDNA replication. Consistent with this finding, cybrids (i.e., cells sharing the same nuclear genetic background but differing in their mtDNA backgrounds) harboring haplogroup J mtDNA had a >2 fold increase in mtDNA copy number, as compared to cybrids containing haplogroup H, with no apparent differences in steady state levels of mtDNA-encoded transcripts. Hence, a haplogroup J regulatory region mutation affects mtDNA replication or stability, which may partially account for the phenotypic impact of this haplogroup. Our analysis thus demonstrates, for the first time, the functional impact of particular mtDNA haplogroup-defining control region mutations, paving the path towards assessing the functionality of both fixed and un-fixed genetic variants in the mitochondrial genome.
Author Summary
Mitochondria, the ‘power plant’ of the cell, have their own distinct genome (mtDNA), whose sequence varies among individuals around the globe. This variation, which was formed by the accumulation of mutations (variants) during the course of evolution, appears to alter the susceptibility to common complex diseases (such as Parkinson's disease and diabetes). However, since the accumulation of mtDNA mutations over time results in the formation of new combinations (genetic backgrounds), it is not clear which of the mutations are functional and which are “evolutionary silent hitchhikers”. Thus we aimed at assessing the functionality of mtDNA genetic variants, focusing on variants within the mtDNA regulatory region, hypothesizing that they could affect mtDNA activity and maintenance. We found that a variant defining mtDNA genetic background ‘J’ significantly increased the transcriptional efficiency and elevated mtDNA copy numbers in cells, as compared to other genetic backgrounds. Hence, mtDNA regulatory region variants can affect mtDNA maintenance, which may partially account for the involvement of this genetic background in disease susceptibility. Our analysis demonstrates, for the first time, the functional impact of a particular mtDNA variant that was fixed during evolution. Moreover, our findings underline the functionality of mtDNA variants in the evolutionary variable regulatory region.
PMCID: PMC2673036  PMID: 19424428
18.  Chicken domestication: an updated perspective based on mitochondrial genomes 
Heredity  2012;110(3):277-282.
Domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) fulfill various roles ranging from food and entertainment to religion and ornamentation. To survey its genetic diversity and trace the history of domestication, we investigated a total of 4938 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) fragments including 2843 previously published and 2095 de novo units from 2044 domestic chickens and 51 red junglefowl (Gallus gallus). To obtain the highest possible level of molecular resolution, 50 representative samples were further selected for total mtDNA genome sequencing. A fine-gained mtDNA phylogeny was investigated by defining haplogroups A–I and W–Z. Common haplogroups A–G were shared by domestic chickens and red junglefowl. Rare haplogroups H–I and W–Z were specific to domestic chickens and red junglefowl, respectively. We re-evaluated the global mtDNA profiles of chickens. The geographic distribution for each of major haplogroups was examined. Our results revealed new complexities of history in chicken domestication because in the phylogeny lineages from the red junglefowl were mingled with those of the domestic chickens. Several local domestication events in South Asia, Southwest China and Southeast Asia were identified. The assessment of chicken mtDNA data also facilitated our understanding about the Austronesian settlement in the Pacific.
PMCID: PMC3668654  PMID: 23211792
chicken; mtDNA; domestication; phylogeny; Austronesian
19.  The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48477.
Linguistic and genetic studies on Roma populations inhabited in Europe have unequivocally traced these populations to the Indian subcontinent. However, the exact parental population group and time of the out-of-India dispersal have remained disputed. In the absence of archaeological records and with only scanty historical documentation of the Roma, comparative linguistic studies were the first to identify their Indian origin. Recently, molecular studies on the basis of disease-causing mutations and haploid DNA markers (i.e. mtDNA and Y-chromosome) supported the linguistic view. The presence of Indian-specific Y-chromosome haplogroup H1a1a-M82 and mtDNA haplogroups M5a1, M18 and M35b among Roma has corroborated that their South Asian origins and later admixture with Near Eastern and European populations. However, previous studies have left unanswered questions about the exact parental population groups in South Asia. Here we present a detailed phylogeographical study of Y-chromosomal haplogroup H1a1a-M82 in a data set of more than 10,000 global samples to discern a more precise ancestral source of European Romani populations. The phylogeographical patterns and diversity estimates indicate an early origin of this haplogroup in the Indian subcontinent and its further expansion to other regions. Tellingly, the short tandem repeat (STR) based network of H1a1a-M82 lineages displayed the closest connection of Romani haplotypes with the traditional scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population groups of northwestern India.
PMCID: PMC3509117  PMID: 23209554
20.  Large-scale mitochondrial DNA analysis in Southeast Asia reveals evolutionary effects of cultural isolation in the multi-ethnic population of Myanmar 
Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia with a population of 55 million people subdivided into more than 100 ethnic groups. Ruled by changing kingdoms and dynasties and lying on the trade route between India and China, Myanmar was influenced by numerous cultures. Since its independence from British occupation, tensions between the ruling Bamar and ethnic minorities increased.
Our aim was to search for genetic footprints of Myanmar’s geographic, historic and sociocultural characteristics and to contribute to the picture of human colonization by describing and dating of new mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups. Therefore, we sequenced the mtDNA control region of 327 unrelated donors and the complete mitochondrial genome of 44 selected individuals according to highest quality standards.
Phylogenetic analyses of the entire mtDNA genomes uncovered eight new haplogroups and three unclassified basal M-lineages. The multi-ethnic population and the complex history of Myanmar were reflected in its mtDNA heterogeneity. Population genetic analyses of Burmese control region sequences combined with population data from neighboring countries revealed that the Myanmar haplogroup distribution showed a typical Southeast Asian pattern, but also Northeast Asian and Indian influences. The population structure of the extraordinarily diverse Bamar differed from that of the Karen people who displayed signs of genetic isolation. Migration analyses indicated a considerable genetic exchange with an overall positive migration balance from Myanmar to neighboring countries. Age estimates of the newly described haplogroups point to the existence of evolutionary windows where climatic and cultural changes gave rise to mitochondrial haplogroup diversification in Asia.
PMCID: PMC3913319  PMID: 24467713
Haplogroup; Complete mtDNA genome; Control region; Population genetics; Migration; Gene flow; Burma; Southeast Asia; Karen; Bamar; Demographic history
21.  Genetic affinities among the lower castes and tribal groups of India: inference from Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA 
BMC Genetics  2006;7:42.
India is a country with enormous social and cultural diversity due to its positioning on the crossroads of many historic and pre-historic human migrations. The hierarchical caste system in the Hindu society dominates the social structure of the Indian populations. The origin of the caste system in India is a matter of debate with many linguists and anthropologists suggesting that it began with the arrival of Indo-European speakers from Central Asia about 3500 years ago. Previous genetic studies based on Indian populations failed to achieve a consensus in this regard. We analysed the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA of three tribal populations of southern India, compared the results with available data from the Indian subcontinent and tried to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Indian caste and tribal populations.
No significant difference was observed in the mitochondrial DNA between Indian tribal and caste populations, except for the presence of a higher frequency of west Eurasian-specific haplogroups in the higher castes, mostly in the north western part of India. On the other hand, the study of the Indian Y lineages revealed distinct distribution patterns among caste and tribal populations. The paternal lineages of Indian lower castes showed significantly closer affinity to the tribal populations than to the upper castes. The frequencies of deep-rooted Y haplogroups such as M89, M52, and M95 were higher in the lower castes and tribes, compared to the upper castes.
The present study suggests that the vast majority (>98%) of the Indian maternal gene pool, consisting of Indio-European and Dravidian speakers, is genetically more or less uniform. Invasions after the late Pleistocene settlement might have been mostly male-mediated. However, Y-SNP data provides compelling genetic evidence for a tribal origin of the lower caste populations in the subcontinent. Lower caste groups might have originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers. The Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes.
PMCID: PMC1569435  PMID: 16893451
22.  A novel subgroup Q5 of human Y-chromosomal haplogroup Q in India 
Y-chromosomal haplogroup (Y-HG) Q is suggested to originate in Asia and represent recent founder paternal Native American radiation into the Americas. This group is delineated into Q1, Q2 and Q3 subgroups defined by biallelic markers M120, M25/M143 and M3, respectively. Recently, a novel subgroup Q4 has been identified which is defined by bi-allelic marker M346, representing HG Q (0.41%, 3/728) in Indian population. With scanty details of HG Q in Asia, especially India, it was pertinent to explore the status of the Y-HG Q in Indian population to gather an insight to determine the extent of diversity within this region.
We observed 15/630 (2.38%) Y-HG Q individuals in India with an ancestral state at M120, M25, M3 and M346 markers, indicating an absence of already known Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 sub-haplogroups. Interestingly, we further observed a novel 4 bp deletion/insertion polymorphism (ss4 bp, rs41352448) at 72,314 position of human arylsulfatase D pseudogene, defining a novel sub-lineage Q5 (in 5/15 individuals, i.e., 33.3 % of the observed Y-HG Q) with distributions independent of the social, cultural, linguistic and geographical affiliations in India.
The study adds another sublineage Q5 in the already existing arrangement of Y-HG Q in literature. It was quite interesting to observe an ancestral state Q* and a novel sub-branch Q5, not reported elsewhere, in Indian subcontinent, though in low frequency. A novel subgroup Q4 was identified recently which is also restricted to Indian subcontinent. The most plausible explanation for these observations could be an ancestral migration of individuals bearing ancestral lineage Q* to Indian subcontinent followed by an autochthonous differentiation to Q4 and Q5 sublineages later on. However, other explanations of, either the presence of both the sub haplogroups (Q4 and Q5) in ancestral migrants or recent migrations from central Asia, cannot be ruled out till the distribution and diversity of these subgroups is explored extensively in Central Asia and other regions.
PMCID: PMC2258157  PMID: 18021436
23.  Taiwan Y-chromosomal DNA variation and its relationship with Island Southeast Asia 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:77.
Much of the data resolution of the haploid non-recombining Y chromosome (NRY) haplogroup O in East Asia are still rudimentary and could be an explanatory factor for current debates on the settlement history of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA). Here, 81 slowly evolving markers (mostly SNPs) and 17 Y-chromosomal short tandem repeats were used to achieve higher level molecular resolution. Our aim is to investigate if the distribution of NRY DNA variation in Taiwan and ISEA is consistent with a single pre-Neolithic expansion scenario from Southeast China to all ISEA, or if it better fits an expansion model from Taiwan (the OOT model), or whether a more complex history of settlement and dispersals throughout ISEA should be envisioned.
We examined DNA samples from 1658 individuals from Vietnam, Thailand, Fujian, Taiwan (Han, plain tribes and 14 indigenous groups), the Philippines and Indonesia. While haplogroups O1a*-M119, O1a1*-P203, O1a2-M50 and O3a2-P201 follow a decreasing cline from Taiwan towards Western Indonesia, O2a1-M95/M88, O3a*-M324, O3a1c-IMS-JST002611 and O3a2c1a-M133 decline northward from Western Indonesia towards Taiwan. Compared to the Taiwan plain tribe minority groups the Taiwanese Austronesian speaking groups show little genetic paternal contribution from Han. They are also characterized by low Y-chromosome diversity, thus testifying for fast drift in these populations. However, in contrast to data provided from other regions of the genome, Y-chromosome gene diversity in Taiwan mountain tribes significantly increases from North to South.
The geographic distribution and the diversity accumulated in the O1a*-M119, O1a1*-P203, O1a2-M50 and O3a2-P201 haplogroups on one hand, and in the O2a1-M95/M88, O3a*-M324, O3a1c-IMS-JST002611 and O3a2c1a-M133 haplogroups on the other, support a pincer model of dispersals and gene flow from the mainland to the islands which likely started during the late upper Paleolithic, 18,000 to 15,000 years ago. The branches of the pincer contributed separately to the paternal gene pool of the Philippines and conjointly to the gene pools of Madagascar and the Solomon Islands. The North to South increase in diversity found for Taiwanese Austronesian speaking groups contrasts with observations based on mitochondrial DNA, thus hinting to a differentiated demographic history of men and women in these populations.
PMCID: PMC4083334  PMID: 24965575
Y chromosome; Y-STR; Y-SNP; Austronesian migration; Taiwan; Island Southeast Asia; Haplogroup O1a
24.  Tracking the genetic imprints of lost Jewish tribes among the gene pool of Kuki-Chin-Mizo population of India 
Genome Biology  2004;6(1):P1.
DNA markers from the Kuki-Chin-Mizo population of Mizoram, India, who claim their descent from the ten lost tribes of Israel that were exiled by the Assyrians, show no evidence of Cohanim origin but some genetic relatedness to Near Eastern lineages.
The Kuki-Chin-Mizo population comprising traditionally endogamous tribal groups residing in the state of Mizoram, India claim their descent from the ten lost tribes of Israel that were exiled by the Assyrians. To ascertain their oral history, we analysed DNA markers comprising 15 autosomal microsatellite markers, 5 biallelic and 20 microsatellite markers on Y-chromosome and the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA sequence variations on 414 individuals belonging to 5 tribal communities from Mizoram (Hmar, Kuki, Mara, Lai and Lusei). The genetic profiles obtained were compared either with populations sharing Jewish ancestry or with local populations along the probable route of migration of the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes.
Y-STR analyses showed absence of the Cohen Modal Haplotype, the genetic signature of Cohanim origin. Y-chromosomal biallelic marker analyses revealed the presence of East and Southeast Asian-specific lineages and absence of haplogroup J predominant among Jewish populations. The mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses however revealed traces of genetic relatedness between the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes and Near Eastern lineages. Autosomal analyses showed moderate degree of genetic differentiation among the different Mizoram tribes.
Migration of the lost tribes through China resulting in subsequent genetic admixture over a long period of time has probably diluted the extant gene pool of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo population. Although their paternal lineages do not exhibit any trace of Jewish ancestry, incidence of maternal Near Eastern lineages among the Mizoram tribals suggests their claim to Jewish ancestry cannot be excluded.
PMCID: PMC4071260
25.  Inland post-glacial dispersal in East Asia revealed by mitochondrial haplogroup M9a'b 
BMC Biology  2011;9:2.
Archaeological studies have revealed a series of cultural changes around the Last Glacial Maximum in East Asia; whether these changes left any signatures in the gene pool of East Asians remains poorly indicated. To achieve deeper insights into the demographic history of modern humans in East Asia around the Last Glacial Maximum, we extensively analyzed mitochondrial DNA haplogroup M9a'b, a specific haplogroup that was suggested to have some potential for tracing the migration around the Last Glacial Maximum in East Eurasia.
A total of 837 M9a'b mitochondrial DNAs (583 from the literature, while the remaining 254 were newly collected in this study) pinpointed from over 28,000 subjects residing across East Eurasia were studied here. Fifty-nine representative samples were further selected for total mitochondrial DNA sequencing so we could better understand the phylogeny within M9a'b. Based on the updated phylogeny, an extensive phylogeographic analysis was carried out to reveal the differentiation of haplogroup M9a'b and to reconstruct the dispersal histories.
Our results indicated that southern China and/or Southeast Asia likely served as the source of some post-Last Glacial Maximum dispersal(s). The detailed dissection of haplogroup M9a'b revealed the existence of an inland dispersal in mainland East Asia during the post-glacial period. It was this dispersal that expanded not only to western China but also to northeast India and the south Himalaya region. A similar phylogeographic distribution pattern was also observed for haplogroup F1c, thus substantiating our proposition. This inland post-glacial dispersal was in agreement with the spread of the Mesolithic culture originating in South China and northern Vietnam.
PMCID: PMC3027199  PMID: 21219640

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