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1.  Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern lineages in Indian Muslim populations 
Islam is the second most practiced religion in India, next to Hinduism. It is still unclear whether the spread of Islam in India has been only a cultural transformation or is associated with detectable levels of gene flow. To estimate the contribution of West Asian and Arabian admixture to Indian Muslims, we assessed genetic variation in mtDNA, Y-chromosomal and LCT/MCM6 markers in 472, 431 and 476 samples, respectively, representing six Muslim communities from different geographical regions of India. We found that most of the Indian Muslim populations received their major genetic input from geographically close non-Muslim populations. However, low levels of likely sub-Saharan African, Arabian and West Asian admixture were also observed among Indian Muslims in the form of L0a2a2 mtDNA and E1b1b1a and J*(xJ2) Y-chromosomal lineages. The distinction between Iranian and Arabian sources was difficult to make with mtDNA and the Y chromosome, as the estimates were highly correlated because of similar gene pool compositions in the sources. In contrast, the LCT/MCM6 locus, which shows a clear distinction between the two sources, enabled us to rule out significant gene flow from Arabia. Overall, our results support a model according to which the spread of Islam in India was predominantly cultural conversion associated with minor but still detectable levels of gene flow from outside, primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.168
PMCID: PMC2859343  PMID: 19809480
Indian Muslims; mtDNA; Y chromosome; Middle East; sub-Saharan; gene flow
2.  A Shared Y-chromosomal Heritage between Muslims and Hindus in India 
Human genetics  2006;120(4):543-551.
Arab forces conquered the Indus Delta region in 711 A.D. and, although a Muslim state was established there, their influence was barely felt in the rest of South Asia at that time. By the end of the tenth century, Central Asian Muslims moved into India from the northwest and expanded throughout the subcontinent. Muslim communities are now the largest minority religion in India, comprising more than 138 million people in a predominantly Hindu population of over one billion. It is unclear whether the Muslim expansion in India was a purely cultural phenomenon or had a genetic impact on the local population. To address this question from a male perspective, we typed eight microsatellite loci and 16 binary markers from the Y chromosome in 246 Muslims from Andhra Pradesh, and compared them to published data on 4,204 males from China, Central Asia, other parts of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. We find that the Muslim populations in general are genetically closer to their non-Muslim geographical neighbors than to other Muslims in India, and that there is a highly significant correlation between genetics and geography (but not religion). Our findings indicate that, despite the documented practice of marriage between Muslim men and Hindu women, Islamization in India did not involve large-scale replacement of Hindu Y chromosomes. The Muslim expansion in India was predominantly a cultural change and was not accompanied by significant gene flow, as seen in other places, such as China and Central Asia.
doi:10.1007/s00439-006-0234-x
PMCID: PMC2590854  PMID: 16951948
Y-chromosomal polymorphism; India; Muslim; Hindu
3.  Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Lebanon Is Structured by Recent Historical Events 
Lebanon is an eastern Mediterranean country inhabited by approximately four million people with a wide variety of ethnicities and religions, including Muslim, Christian, and Druze. In the present study, 926 Lebanese men were typed with Y-chromosomal SNP and STR markers, and unusually, male genetic variation within Lebanon was found to be more strongly structured by religious affiliation than by geography. We therefore tested the hypothesis that migrations within historical times could have contributed to this situation. Y-haplogroup J∗(xJ2) was more frequent in the putative Muslim source region (the Arabian Peninsula) than in Lebanon, and it was also more frequent in Lebanese Muslims than in Lebanese non-Muslims. Conversely, haplogroup R1b was more frequent in the putative Christian source region (western Europe) than in Lebanon and was also more frequent in Lebanese Christians than in Lebanese non-Christians. The most common R1b STR-haplotype in Lebanese Christians was otherwise highly specific for western Europe and was unlikely to have reached its current frequency in Lebanese Christians without admixture. We therefore suggest that the Islamic expansion from the Arabian Peninsula beginning in the seventh century CE introduced lineages typical of this area into those who subsequently became Lebanese Muslims, whereas the Crusader activity in the 11th–13th centuries CE introduced western European lineages into Lebanese Christians.
doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.01.020
PMCID: PMC2427286  PMID: 18374297
4.  Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Lebanon Is Structured by Recent Historical Events 
Lebanon is an eastern Mediterranean country inhabited by approximately four million people with a wide variety of ethnicities and religions, including Muslim, Christian, and Druze. In the present study, 926 Lebanese men were typed with Y-chromosomal SNP and STR markers, and unusually, male genetic variation within Lebanon was found to be more strongly structured by religious affiliation than by geography. We therefore tested the hypothesis that migrations within historical times could have contributed to this situation. Y-haplogroup J∗(xJ2) was more frequent in the putative Muslim source region (the Arabian Peninsula) than in Lebanon, and it was also more frequent in Lebanese Muslims than in Lebanese non-Muslims. Conversely, haplogroup R1b was more frequent in the putative Christian source region (western Europe) than in Lebanon and was also more frequent in Lebanese Christians than in Lebanese non-Christians. The most common R1b STR-haplotype in Lebanese Christians was otherwise highly specific for western Europe and was unlikely to have reached its current frequency in Lebanese Christians without admixture. We therefore suggest that the Islamic expansion from the Arabian Peninsula beginning in the seventh century CE introduced lineages typical of this area into those who subsequently became Lebanese Muslims, whereas the Crusader activity in the 11th–13th centuries CE introduced western European lineages into Lebanese Christians.
doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.01.020
PMCID: PMC2427286  PMID: 18374297
5.  Mitochondrial DNA structure in the Arabian Peninsula 
Background
Two potential migratory routes followed by modern humans to colonize Eurasia from Africa have been proposed. These are the two natural passageways that connect both continents: the northern route through the Sinai Peninsula and the southern route across the Bab al Mandab strait. Recent archaeological and genetic evidence have favored a unique southern coastal route. Under this scenario, the study of the population genetic structure of the Arabian Peninsula, the first step out of Africa, to search for primary genetic links between Africa and Eurasia, is crucial. The haploid and maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecule has been the most used genetic marker to identify and to relate lineages with clear geographic origins, as the African Ls and the Eurasian M and N that have a common root with the Africans L3.
Results
To assess the role of the Arabian Peninsula in the southern route, we genetically analyzed 553 Saudi Arabs using partial (546) and complete mtDNA (7) sequencing, and compared the lineages obtained with those present in Africa, the Near East, central, east and southeast Asia and Australasia. The results showed that the Arabian Peninsula has received substantial gene flow from Africa (20%), detected by the presence of L, M1 and U6 lineages; that an 18% of the Arabian Peninsula lineages have a clear eastern provenance, mainly represented by U lineages; but also by Indian M lineages and rare M links with Central Asia, Indonesia and even Australia. However, the bulk (62%) of the Arabian lineages has a Northern source.
Conclusion
Although there is evidence of Neolithic and more recent expansions in the Arabian Peninsula, mainly detected by (preHV)1 and J1b lineages, the lack of primitive autochthonous M and N sequences, suggests that this area has been more a receptor of human migrations, including historic ones, from Africa, India, Indonesia and even Australia, than a demographic expansion center along the proposed southern coastal route.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-45
PMCID: PMC2268671  PMID: 18269758
6.  Presence of three different paternal lineages among North Indians: A study of 560 Y chromosomes 
Annals of human biology  2009;36(1):46-59.
Background
The genetic structure, affinities, and diversity of the 1 billion Indians hold important keys to numerous unanswered questions regarding the evolution of human populations and the forces shaping contemporary patterns of genetic variation. Although there have been several recent studies of South Indian caste groups, North Indian caste groups, and South Indian Muslims using Y-chromosomal markers, overall, the Indian population has still not been well studied compared to other geographical populations. In particular, no genetic study has been conducted on Shias and Sunnis from North India.
Aim
This study aims to investigate genetic variation and the gene pool in North Indians.
Subjects and methods
A total of 32 Y-chromosomal markers in 560 North Indian males collected from three higher caste groups (Brahmins, Chaturvedis and Bhargavas) and two Muslims groups (Shia and Sunni) were genotyped.
Results
Three distinct lineages were revealed based upon 13 haplogroups. The first was a Central Asian lineage harbouring haplogroups R1 and R2. The second lineage was of Middle-Eastern origin represented by haplogroups J2*, Shia-specific E1b1b1, and to some extent G* and L*. The third was the indigenous Indian Y-lineage represented by haplogroups H1*, F*, C* and O*. Haplogroup E1b1b1 was observed in Shias only.
Conclusion
The results revealed that a substantial part of today’s North Indian paternal gene pool was contributed by Central Asian lineages who are Indo-European speakers, suggesting that extant Indian caste groups are primarily the descendants of Indo-European migrants. The presence of haplogroup E in Shias, first reported in this study, suggests a genetic distinction between the two Indo Muslim sects. The findings of the present study provide insights into prehistoric and early historic patterns of migration into India and the evolution of Indian populations in recent history.
doi:10.1080/03014460802558522
PMCID: PMC2755252  PMID: 19058044
Paternal lineages; Y-chromosomal markers; North Indians; migration
7.  Reconstruction of major maternal and paternal lineages of the Cape Muslim population 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2013;36(2):167-176.
The earliest Cape Muslims were brought to the Cape (Cape Town - South Africa) from Africa and Asia from 1652 to 1834. They were part of an involuntary migration of slaves, political prisoners and convicts, and they contributed to the ethnic diversity of the present Cape Muslim population of South Africa. The history of the Cape Muslims has been well documented and researched however no in-depth genetic studies have been undertaken. The aim of the present study was to determine the respective African, Asian and European contributions to the mtDNA (maternal) and Y-chromosomal (paternal) gene pool of the Cape Muslim population, by analyzing DNA samples of 100 unrelated Muslim males born in the Cape Metropolitan area. A panel of six mtDNA and eight Y-chromosome SNP markers were screened using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphisms (PCR-RFLP). Overall admixture estimates for the maternal line indicated Asian (0.4168) and African mtDNA (0.4005) as the main contributors. The admixture estimates for the paternal line, however, showed a predominance of the Asian contribution (0.7852). The findings are in accordance with historical data on the origins of the early Cape Muslims.
doi:10.1590/S1415-47572013005000019
PMCID: PMC3715281  PMID: 23885197
PCR-RFLP; genetic polymorphism; mitochondrial DNA; population genetic structure; chromosome variations
8.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007447
PMCID: PMC2757894  PMID: 19823670
9.  Cancer and congenital abnormalities in Asian children: a population-based study from the West Midlands. 
British Journal of Cancer  1995;72(6):1563-1569.
Cancer and associated congenital abnormalities were investigated in Muslim and non-Muslim Asian children from the West Midlands. Cancer incidence rates were calculated for Indian (non-Muslim), Pakistani/Bangladeshi (Muslim) and white children diagnosed from 1978 to 1992. Incidence was significantly higher in the Pakistanis, with an age-standardised rate (ASR) of 163 cases per million per year, compared with 115 for Indian and 125 for white children. Among Asian cancer patients, congenital malformations were significantly more common in Muslim (21%) compared with non-Muslim (7%). In Muslims the malformation excess was caused by autosomal recessive and dominant disorders (in 8% and 5% of cases respectively). Cancer malformation/predisposition syndromes were found in 10% of Muslims, compared with 2% of non-Muslims. In 33% of the Muslims with malformations, childhood cancer and a malformation were also present in a close relative. None of the non-Muslims with malformations had a relative with childhood cancer. The cancer excess in Muslims may be partly related to inherited genes causing both malformations and cancer. The prevalence of autosomal recessive disorders may be related to consanguinity, which is common in the Pakistani Muslim population. The high incidence of autosomal dominant disorders may be related to older paternal age at conception, giving rise to spontaneous mutations.
PMCID: PMC2034071  PMID: 8519679
10.  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.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-26
PMCID: PMC516768  PMID: 15339343
11.  Genome-Wide Diversity in the Levant Reveals Recent Structuring by Culture 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003316.
The Levant is a region in the Near East with an impressive record of continuous human existence and major cultural developments since the Paleolithic period. Genetic and archeological studies present solid evidence placing the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula as the first stepping-stone outside Africa. There is, however, little understanding of demographic changes in the Middle East, particularly the Levant, after the first Out-of-Africa expansion and how the Levantine peoples relate genetically to each other and to their neighbors. In this study we analyze more than 500,000 genome-wide SNPs in 1,341 new samples from the Levant and compare them to samples from 48 populations worldwide. Our results show recent genetic stratifications in the Levant are driven by the religious affiliations of the populations within the region. Cultural changes within the last two millennia appear to have facilitated/maintained admixture between culturally similar populations from the Levant, Arabian Peninsula, and Africa. The same cultural changes seem to have resulted in genetic isolation of other groups by limiting admixture with culturally different neighboring populations. Consequently, Levant populations today fall into two main groups: one sharing more genetic characteristics with modern-day Europeans and Central Asians, and the other with closer genetic affinities to other Middle Easterners and Africans. Finally, we identify a putative Levantine ancestral component that diverged from other Middle Easterners ∼23,700–15,500 years ago during the last glacial period, and diverged from Europeans ∼15,900–9,100 years ago between the last glacial warming and the start of the Neolithic.
Author Summary
Population stratification caused by nonrandom mating between groups of the same species is often due to geographical distances leading to physical separation followed by genetic drift of allele frequencies in each group. In humans, population structures are also often driven by geographical barriers or distances; however, humans might also be structured by abstract factors such as culture, a consequence of their reasoning and self-awareness. Religion in particular, is one of the unusual conceptual factors that can drive human population structures. This study explores the Levant, a region flanked by the Middle East and Europe, where individual and population relationships are still strongly influenced by religion. We show that religious affiliation had a strong impact on the genomes of the Levantines. In particular, conversion of the region's populations to Islam appears to have introduced major rearrangements in populations' relations through admixture with culturally similar but geographically remote populations, leading to genetic similarities between remarkably distant populations like Jordanians, Moroccans, and Yemenis. Conversely, other populations, like Christians and Druze, became genetically isolated in the new cultural environment. We reconstructed the genetic structure of the Levantines and found that a pre-Islamic expansion Levant was more genetically similar to Europeans than to Middle Easterners.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003316
PMCID: PMC3585000  PMID: 23468648
12.  Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup H structure in North Africa 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:8.
Background
The Strait of Gibraltar separating the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa is thought to be a stronger barrier to gene flow for male than for female lineages. However, the recent subdivision of the haplogroup H at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) level has revealed greater genetic differentiation among geographic regions than previously detected. The dissection of the mtDNA haplogroup H in North Africa, and its comparison with the Iberian Peninsula and Near-East profiles would help clarify the relative affinities among these regions.
Results
Like the Iberian Peninsula, the dominant mtDNA haplogroup H subgroups in North Africa are H1 (42%) and H3 (13%). The similarity between these regions is stronger in the North-West edge affecting mainly Moroccan Arabs, West Saharans and Mauritanians, and decreases eastwards probably due to gene flow from Near East as attested for the higher frequencies of H4, H5, H7, H8 and H11 subgroups. Moroccan Berbers show stronger affinities with Tunisian and Tunisian Berbers than with Moroccan Arabs. Coalescence ages for H1 (11 ± 2 ky) and H3 (11 ± 4 ky) in North Africa point to the possibility of a late Palaeolithic settlement for these lineages similar to those found for other mtDNA haplogroups. Total and partial mtDNA genomic sequencing unveiled stronger mtDNA differentiation among regions than previously found using HVSI mtDNA based analysis.
Conclusion
The subdivision of the mtDNA haplogroup H in North Africa has confirmed that the genetic differentiation found among Western and Eastern populations is mainly due to geographical rather than cultural barriers. It also shows that the historical Arabian role on the region had more a cultural than a demic effect. Whole mtDNA sequencing of identical H haplotypes based on HVSI and RFLP information has unveiled additional mtDNA differences between North African and Iberian Peninsula lineages, pointing to an older mtDNA genetic flow between regions than previously thought. Based on this new information, it seems that the Strait of Gibraltar barrier affected both male and female gene flow in a similar fashion.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-8
PMCID: PMC2657161  PMID: 19243582
13.  Genetic structure of four socio-culturally diversified caste populations of southwest India and their affinity with related Indian and global groups 
BMC Genetics  2004;5:23.
Background
A large number of microsatellites have been extensively used to comprehend the genetic diversity of different global groups. This paper entails polymorphism at 15 STR in four predominant and endogamous populations representing Karnataka, located on the southwest coast of India. The populations residing in this region are believed to have received gene flow from south Indian populations and world migrants, hence, we carried out a detailed study on populations inhabiting this region to understand their genetic structure, diversity related to geography and linguistic affiliation and relatedness to other Indian and global migrant populations.
Results
Various statistical analyses were performed on the microsatellite data to accomplish the objectives of the paper. The heretozygosity was moderately high and similar across the loci, with low average GST value. Iyengar and Lyngayat were placed above the regression line in the R-matrix analysis as opposed to the Gowda and Muslim. AMOVA indicated that majority of variation was confined to individuals within a population, with geographic grouping demonstrating lesser genetic differentiation as compared to linguistic clustering. DA distances show the genetic affinity among the southern populations, with Iyengar, Lyngayat and Vanniyar displaying some affinity with northern Brahmins and global migrant groups from East Asia and Europe.
Conclusion
The microsatellite study divulges a common ancestry for the four diverse populations of Karnataka, with the overall genetic differentiation among them being largely confined to intra-population variation. The practice of consanguineous marriages might have attributed to the relatively lower gene flow displayed by Gowda and Muslim as compared to Iyengar and Lyngayat. The various statistical analyses strongly suggest that the studied populations could not be differentiated on the basis of caste or spatial location, although, linguistic affinity was reflected among the southern populations, distinguishing them from the northern groups. Our study also indicates a heterogeneous origin for Lyngayat and Iyengar owing to their genetic proximity with southern populations and northern Brahmins. The high-ranking communities, in particular, Iyengar, Lyngayat, Vanniyar and northern Brahmins might have experienced genetic admixture from East Asian and European ethnic groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-23
PMCID: PMC515297  PMID: 15317657
14.  Molecular insight into the genesis of ranked caste populations of western India based upon polymorphisms across non-recombinant and recombinant regions in genome 
Genome Biology  2005;6(8):P10.
To trace admixture and genesis of caste populations of western India, polymorphisms were examined across non-recombining 20 Y-SNPs, 20 Y-STRs, 18 mtDNA diagnostic sites, HVS-1 plus HVS-2 regions; and recombining 15 highly polymorphic autosomal STRs in four predominant caste populations- upper-ranking Desasth-brahmin and Chitpavan-brahmin; a middle-ranking Kshtriya Maratha; and a lower-rank peasant Dhangar.
Background
Large-scale trade and cultural contacts between coastal populations of western India and Western-Eurasians paved for extensive immigration and genesis of wide spectrum of admixed gene pool. To trace admixture and genesis of caste populations of western India, we have examined polymorphisms across non-recombining 20 Y-SNPs, 20 Y-STRs, 18 mtDNA diagnostic sites, HVS-1 plus HVS-2 regions; and recombining 15 highly polymorphic autosomal STRs in four predominant caste populations- upper-ranking Desasth-brahmin and Chitpavan-brahmin; a middle-ranking Kshtriya Maratha; and a lower-rank peasant Dhangar.
Results
The generated genomic data was compared with putative parental populations- Central Asians, West Asians and Europeans using AMOVA, PC plot, and admixture estimates. Overall, disparate uniparental ancestries, and l.1% GST value for biparental markers among four studied caste populations linked well with their exchequer demographic histories. Marathi-speaking ancient Desasth-brahmin shows substantial admixture from Central Asian males but Paleolithic maternal component support their Scytho-Dravidian origin. Chitpavanbrahmin demonstrates younger maternal component and substantial paternal gene flow from West Asia, thus giving credence to their recent Irano-Scythian ancestry from Mediterranean or Turkey, which correlated well with European-looking features of this caste. This also explains their untraceable ethno-history before 1000 years, brahminization event and later amalgamation by Maratha. The widespread Palaeolithic mtDNA haplogroups in Maratha and Dhangar highlight their shared Proto-Asian ancestries. Maratha males harboured Anatolianderived J2 lineage corroborating the blending of farming communities. Dhangar heterogeneity is ascribable to predominantly South-Asian males and West-Eurasian females.
Conclusions
The genomic data-sets of this study provide ample genomic evidences of diverse origins of four ranked castes and synchronization of caste stratification with asymmetrical gene flows from Indo-European migration during Upper Paleolithic, Neolithic, and later dates. However, subsequent gene flows among these castes living in geographical proximity, have diminished significant genetic differentiation as indicated by AMOVA and structure.
doi:10.1186/gb-2005-6-8-p10
PMCID: PMC4071276
15.  Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the Indian peninsula 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-227
PMCID: PMC2529308  PMID: 18680585
16.  Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome diversity of the Tharus (Nepal): a reservoir of genetic variation 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-154
PMCID: PMC2720951  PMID: 19573232
17.  Eurasian and African mitochondrial DNA influences in the Saudi Arabian population 
Background
Genetic studies of the Arabian Peninsula are scarce even though the region was the center of ancient trade routes and empires and may have been the southern corridor for the earliest human migration from Africa to Asia. A total of 120 mtDNA Saudi Arab lineages were analyzed for HVSI/II sequences and for haplogroup confirmatory coding diagnostic positions. A phylogeny of the most abundant haplogroup (preHV)1 (R0a) was constructed based on 13 whole mtDNA genomes.
Results
The Saudi Arabian group showed greatest similarity to other Arabian Peninsula populations (Bedouin from the Negev desert and Yemeni) and to Levantine populations. Nearly all the main western Asia haplogroups were detected in the Saudi sample, including the rare U9 clade. Saudi Arabs had only a minority sub-Saharan Africa component (7%), similar to the specific North-African contribution (5%). In addition, a small Indian influence (3%) was also detected.
Conclusion
The majority of the Saudi-Arab mitochondrial DNA lineages (85%) have a western Asia provenance. Although the still large confidence intervals, the coalescence and phylogeography of (preHV)1 haplogroup (accounting for 18 % of Saudi Arabian lineages) matches a Neolithic expansion in Saudi Arabia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-32
PMCID: PMC1810519  PMID: 17331239
18.  Genetic affinities between endogamous and inbreeding populations of Uttar Pradesh 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:12.
Background
India has experienced several waves of migration since the Middle Paleolithic. It is believed that the initial demic movement into India was from Africa along the southern coastal route, approximately 60,000–85,000 years before present (ybp). It has also been reported that there were two other major colonization which included eastward diffusion of Neolithic farmers (Elamo Dravidians) from Middle East sometime between 10,000 and 7,000 ybp and a southern dispersal of Indo Europeans from Central Asia 3,000 ybp. Mongol entry during the thirteenth century A.D. as well as some possible minor incursions from South China 50,000 to 60,000 ybp may have also contributed to cultural, linguistic and genetic diversity in India. Therefore, the genetic affinity and relationship of Indians with other world populations and also within India are often contested. In the present study, we have attempted to offer a fresh and immaculate interpretation on the genetic relationships of different North Indian populations with other Indian and world populations.
Results
We have first genotyped 20 tetra-nucleotide STR markers among 1800 north Indian samples of nine endogamous populations belonging to three different socio-cultural strata. Genetic distances (Nei's DA and Reynold's Fst) were calculated among the nine studied populations, Caucasians and East Asians. This analysis was based upon the allelic profile of 20 STR markers to assess the genetic similarity and differences of the north Indian populations. North Indians showed a stronger genetic relationship with the Europeans (DA 0.0341 and Fst 0.0119) as compared to the Asians (DA 0.1694 and Fst – 0.0718). The upper caste Brahmins and Muslims were closest to Caucasians while middle caste populations were closer to Asians. Finally, three phylogenetic assessments based on two different NJ and ML phylogenetic methods and PC plot analysis were carried out using the same panel of 20 STR markers and 20 geo-ethnic populations. The three phylogenetic assessments revealed that north Indians are clustering with Caucasians.
Conclusion
The genetic affinities of Indians and that of different caste groups towards Caucasians or East Asians is distributed in a cline where geographically north Indians and both upper caste and Muslim populations are genetically closer to the Caucasians.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-8-12
PMCID: PMC1855350  PMID: 17417972
19.  Autosomal and uniparental portraits of the native populations of Sakha (Yakutia): implications for the peopling of Northeast Eurasia 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-127
PMCID: PMC3695835  PMID: 23782551
mtDNA; Y chromosome; Autosomal SNPs; Sakha
20.  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.
doi:10.1002/ajpa.22256
PMCID: PMC3652038  PMID: 23526367
Y chromosome; mitochondrial DNA; migration; Indo-Aryan languages; South Asia
21.  Genetic variation in South Indian castes: evidence from Y-chromosome, mitochondrial, and autosomal polymorphisms 
BMC Genetics  2008;9:86.
Background
Major population movements, social structure, and caste endogamy have influenced the genetic structure of Indian populations. An understanding of these influences is increasingly important as gene mapping and case-control studies are initiated in South Indian populations.
Results
We report new data on 155 individuals from four Tamil caste populations of South India and perform comparative analyses with caste populations from the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh. Genetic differentiation among Tamil castes is low (RST = 0.96% for 45 autosomal short tandem repeat (STR) markers), reflecting a largely common origin. Nonetheless, caste- and continent-specific patterns are evident. For 32 lineage-defining Y-chromosome SNPs, Tamil castes show higher affinity to Europeans than to eastern Asians, and genetic distance estimates to the Europeans are ordered by caste rank. For 32 lineage-defining mitochondrial SNPs and hypervariable sequence (HVS) 1, Tamil castes have higher affinity to eastern Asians than to Europeans. For 45 autosomal STRs, upper and middle rank castes show higher affinity to Europeans than do lower rank castes from either Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh. Local between-caste variation (Tamil Nadu RST = 0.96%, Andhra Pradesh RST = 0.77%) exceeds the estimate of variation between these geographically separated groups (RST = 0.12%). Low, but statistically significant, correlations between caste rank distance and genetic distance are demonstrated for Tamil castes using Y-chromosome, mtDNA, and autosomal data.
Conclusion
Genetic data from Y-chromosome, mtDNA, and autosomal STRs are in accord with historical accounts of northwest to southeast population movements in India. The influence of ancient and historical population movements and caste social structure can be detected and replicated in South Indian caste populations from two different geographic regions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-86
PMCID: PMC2621241  PMID: 19077280
22.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477
PMCID: PMC3509117  PMID: 23209554
23.  G6PD Deficiency Prevalence and Estimates of Affected Populations in Malaria Endemic Countries: A Geostatistical Model-Based Map 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001339.
Rosalind Howes and colleagues present a map of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency prevalence and severity. Individuals with the deficiency are at risk of mild to severe hemolysis when taking the antimalarial primaquine.
Background
Primaquine is a key drug for malaria elimination. In addition to being the only drug active against the dormant relapsing forms of Plasmodium vivax, primaquine is the sole effective treatment of infectious P. falciparum gametocytes, and may interrupt transmission and help contain the spread of artemisinin resistance. However, primaquine can trigger haemolysis in patients with a deficiency in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDd). Poor information is available about the distribution of individuals at risk of primaquine-induced haemolysis. We present a continuous evidence-based prevalence map of G6PDd and estimates of affected populations, together with a national index of relative haemolytic risk.
Methods and Findings
Representative community surveys of phenotypic G6PDd prevalence were identified for 1,734 spatially unique sites. These surveys formed the evidence-base for a Bayesian geostatistical model adapted to the gene's X-linked inheritance, which predicted a G6PDd allele frequency map across malaria endemic countries (MECs) and generated population-weighted estimates of affected populations. Highest median prevalence (peaking at 32.5%) was predicted across sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Although G6PDd prevalence was generally lower across central and southeast Asia, rarely exceeding 20%, the majority of G6PDd individuals (67.5% median estimate) were from Asian countries. We estimated a G6PDd allele frequency of 8.0% (interquartile range: 7.4–8.8) across MECs, and 5.3% (4.4–6.7) within malaria-eliminating countries. The reliability of the map is contingent on the underlying data informing the model; population heterogeneity can only be represented by the available surveys, and important weaknesses exist in the map across data-sparse regions. Uncertainty metrics are used to quantify some aspects of these limitations in the map. Finally, we assembled a database of G6PDd variant occurrences to inform a national-level index of relative G6PDd haemolytic risk. Asian countries, where variants were most severe, had the highest relative risks from G6PDd.
Conclusions
G6PDd is widespread and spatially heterogeneous across most MECs where primaquine would be valuable for malaria control and elimination. The maps and population estimates presented here reflect potential risk of primaquine-associated harm. In the absence of non-toxic alternatives to primaquine, these results represent additional evidence to help inform safe use of this valuable, yet dangerous, component of the malaria-elimination toolkit.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a parasitic infection that is transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Of the four parasites that cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly and P. vivax is the commonest and most widely distributed. Malaria parasites have a complex life cycle. Infected mosquitoes inject “sporozoites” into people, a form of the parasite that replicates inside human liver cells. After a few days, the liver cells release “merozoites,” which invade red blood cells where they replicate rapidly before bursting out and infecting other red blood cells. This increase in the parasitic burden causes malaria's characteristic fever and can cause organ damage and death. Infected red blood cells also release “gametocytes,” which infect mosquitoes when they take a blood meal. In the mosquito, gametocytes multiply and develop into sporozoites, thus completing the parasite's life cycle. Malaria can be prevented by controlling the mosquitoes that spread the parasite and by avoiding mosquito bites by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets. Treatment with effective antimalarial drugs also decreases malaria transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
The Global Malaria Action Plan aims to reduce malaria deaths to zero by 2015 and to eradicate malaria in the long-term through its progressive elimination in malaria-endemic countries (countries where malaria is always present). Primaquine is a key drug for malaria elimination. It is the only treatment effective against the gametocytes that transmit malaria between people and mosquitoes and against P. vivax “hypnozoites,” which hibernate in the liver and cause malaria relapses. Unfortunately, primaquine induces mild to severe destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis) in people who have a deficiency in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). G6PD deficiency (G6PDd) is common in some ethnic groups but the global distribution of individuals at risk of primaquine-induced hemolysis is unknown and there is no practical field test for G6PDd. Consequently, it is hard to design and implement primaquine treatment practices that balance the benefits of malaria transmission reduction and relapse prevention against the risk of hemolysis. Here, the researchers use a geostatistical model to map the prevalence (frequency in a population) of G6PDd in malaria-endemic countries and to estimate how many people are affected in these countries. They also develop a national index of relative hemolytic risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers fed data from community surveys of the prevalence of phenotypic G6PDd (reduced enzyme activity) for 1,734 sites (including 1,289 sites in malaria-endemic countries) into a geostatistical model originally developed to map global malaria endemicity. The model predicted that G6PDd is widespread across malaria-endemic regions, with the lowest prevalences in the Americas and the highest in tropical Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but that most G6PDd individuals live in Asian countries. The predicted prevalence of G6PDd varied considerably over relatively short distances in many areas but, averaged across malaria-endemic countries it was 8%, which corresponds to about 350 million affected individuals; averaged across countries that are currently planning for malaria elimination, the prevalence was 5.3% (nearly 100 million affected individuals). Finally, the researchers used data on the geographical occurrence of G6PD variants classified according to their enzyme activity levels as mild or severe to derive an index of hemolytic risk from G6PDd for each malaria-endemic country. The greatest risk was in the Arabian Peninsula and west Asia where the predicted prevalence of G6PDd and the occurrence of severe G6PD variants were both high.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that G6PDd is widespread and spatially heterogeneous across most of the malaria-endemic countries where primaquine would be valuable for malaria control and elimination. The accuracy of these findings is limited, however, by the assumptions made in the geostatistical model, by the accuracy of the data fed into the model, and by the lack of data for some malaria-endemic countries. Moreover, there is considerable uncertainty associated with the proposed index of hemolysis risk because it is based on phenotypic G6PDd enzyme activity classifications, which is presumed, but not widely demonstrated, to be a surrogate marker for hemolysis. Nevertheless, these findings pave the way for further data collection and for the refinement of G6PDd maps that, in the absence of non-toxic alternatives to primaquine, will guide the design of safe primaquine regimens for the elimination of malaria.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001339.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria; its 2011 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation (some information is available in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including a selection of personal stories about malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria and on the Global Malaria Action Plan
Information on the global mapping of malaria is available at the Malaria Atlas Project website where G6PD deficiency prevalence maps, population estimates and the data used in this study can also be accessed
Information about G6PD deficiency for affected families can be found on KidsHealth from the Nemous Children's Health System and the G6PD Deficiency Association website
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria; the MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information about G6PD deficiency (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001339
PMCID: PMC3496665  PMID: 23152723
24.  Genetic Structure of Tibeto-Burman Populations of Bangladesh: Evaluating the Gene Flow along the Sides of Bay-of-Bengal 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75064.
Human settlement and migrations along sides of Bay-of-Bengal have played a vital role in shaping the genetic landscape of Bangladesh, Eastern India and Southeast Asia. Bangladesh and Northeast India form the vital land bridge between the South and Southeast Asia. To reconstruct the population history of this region and to see whether this diverse region geographically acted as a corridor or barrier for human interaction between South Asia and Southeast Asia, we, for the first time analyzed high resolution uniparental (mtDNA and Y chromosome) and biparental autosomal genetic markers among aboriginal Bangladesh tribes currently speaking Tibeto-Burman language. All the three studied populations; Chakma, Marma and Tripura from Bangladesh showed strikingly high homogeneity among themselves and strong affinities to Northeast Indian Tibeto-Burman groups. However, they show substantially higher molecular diversity than Northeast Indian populations. Unlike Austroasiatic (Munda) speakers of India, we observed equal role of both males and females in shaping the Tibeto-Burman expansion in Southern Asia. Moreover, it is noteworthy that in admixture proportion, TB populations of Bangladesh carry substantially higher mainland Indian ancestry component than Northeast Indian Tibeto-Burmans. Largely similar expansion ages of two major paternal haplogroups (O2a and O3a3c), suggested that they arose before the differentiation of any language group and approximately at the same time. Contrary to the scenario proposed for colonization of Northeast India as male founder effect that occurred within the past 4,000 years, we suggest a significantly deep colonization of this region. Overall, our extensive analysis revealed that the population history of South Asian Tibeto-Burman speakers is more complex than it was suggested before.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075064
PMCID: PMC3794028  PMID: 24130682
25.  Plio-Pleistocene history and phylogeography of Acacia senegal in dry woodlands and savannahs of sub-Saharan tropical Africa: evidence of early colonisation and recent range expansion 
Heredity  2012;109(6):372-382.
Drylands are extensive across sub-Saharan Africa, socio-economically and ecologically important yet highly sensitive to environmental changes. Evolutionary history, as revealed by contemporary intraspecific genetic variation, can provide valuable insight into how species have responded to past environmental and population changes and guide strategies to promote resilience to future changes. The gum arabic tree (Acacia senegal) is an arid-adapted, morphologically diverse species native to the sub-Saharan drylands. We used variation in nuclear sequences (internal transcribed spacer (ITS)) and two types of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) markers (PCR-RFLP, cpSSR) to study the phylogeography of the species with 293 individuals from 66 populations sampled across its natural range. cpDNA data showed high regional and rangewide haplotypic diversity (hT(cpSSR)=0.903–0.948) and population differentiation (GST(RFLP)=0.700–0.782) with a phylogeographic pattern that indicated extensive historical gene flow via seed dispersal. Haplotypes were not restricted to any of the four varieties, but showed significant geographic structure (GST(cpSSR)=0.392; RST=0.673; RST>RST (permuted)), with the major division separating East and Southern Africa populations from those in West and Central Africa. Phylogenetic analysis of ITS data indicated a more recent origin for the clade including West and Central African haplotypes, suggesting range expansion in this region, possibly during the Holocene humid period. In conjunction with paleobotanical evidence, our data suggest dispersal to West Africa, and across to the Arabian Peninsula and Indian subcontinent, from source populations located in the East African region during climate oscillations of the Plio-Pleistocene.
doi:10.1038/hdy.2012.52
PMCID: PMC3499837  PMID: 22929152
aridity; gum arabic; hybridisation; long-distance dispersal; phylogeny; refugia

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