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1.  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
2.  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
3.  Presence of three different paternal lineages among North Indians: A study of 560 Y chromosomes 
Annals of human biology  2009;36(1):46-59.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2755252  PMID: 19058044
Paternal lineages; Y-chromosomal markers; North Indians; migration
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC3794028  PMID: 24130682
5.  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
6.  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
7.  Y-Chromosome Diversity in Modern Bulgarians: New Clues about Their Ancestry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e56779.
To better define the structure and origin of the Bulgarian paternal gene pool, we have examined the Y-chromosome variation in 808 Bulgarian males. The analysis was performed by high-resolution genotyping of biallelic markers and by analyzing the STR variation within the most informative haplogroups. We found that the Y-chromosome gene pool in modern Bulgarians is primarily represented by Western Eurasian haplogroups with ∼ 40% belonging to haplogroups E-V13 and I-M423, and 20% to R-M17. Haplogroups common in the Middle East (J and G) and in South Western Asia (R-L23*) occur at frequencies of 19% and 5%, respectively. Haplogroups C, N and Q, distinctive for Altaic and Central Asian Turkic-speaking populations, occur at the negligible frequency of only 1.5%. Principal Component analyses group Bulgarians with European populations, apart from Central Asian Turkic-speaking groups and South Western Asia populations. Within the country, the genetic variation is structured in Western, Central and Eastern Bulgaria indicating that the Balkan Mountains have been permeable to human movements. The lineage analysis provided the following interesting results: (i) R-L23* is present in Eastern Bulgaria since the post glacial period; (ii) haplogroup E-V13 has a Mesolithic age in Bulgaria from where it expanded after the arrival of farming; (iii) haplogroup J-M241 probably reflects the Neolithic westward expansion of farmers from the earliest sites along the Black Sea. On the whole, in light of the most recent historical studies, which indicate a substantial proto-Bulgarian input to the contemporary Bulgarian people, our data suggest that a common paternal ancestry between the proto-Bulgarians and the Altaic and Central Asian Turkic-speaking populations either did not exist or was negligible.
PMCID: PMC3590186  PMID: 23483890
8.  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
9.  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
10.  Analysis of molecular genetic diversity in a representative collection of foxtail millet [Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv.] from different agro-ecological regions of India 
Foxtail millet [Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv.], an important crop of East Asia is known for its drought tolerance and was once an indispensible crop of vast rainfed areas in semi-arid regions in India. In India it is cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and north eastern states. The grain finds use in several local recipes such as roti (bread), jaula, singal, sirol. Foxtail millet grain contains 12.3 % protein, 4.7 % fat, 60.6 % carbohydrates, and 3.2 % ash. The present study was conducted to analyse the genetic diversity among foxtail accessions from different states of India and a few exotic accessions using RAPD and ISSR techniques and identify diverse accessions for use in variety improvement programmes. A set of 125 foxtail millet accessions selected from 11 different agro-ecological regions of India were analyzed using random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and inter simple sequence repeat (ISSR) marker techniques. A total of 146 (115 RAPD and 31 ISSR) scoreable markers were generated with 16 RAPD and four ISSR primers. The dendrogram generated using Nei’s genetic distances and principal component analyses revealed presence of two clusters and two subclusters in group I. The accessions from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand were more diverse since they were distributed in both the clusters. There was no clear geographical differentiation observable. The bootstrap support for the major groups identified was strong (above 80 %) indicating good statistical support. The average value of Nei and Li’s genetic distance was lowest (0.081) for accessions from West Bengal while the collections from Karnataka showed highest dissimilarity (average genetic distance = 0.239). The average genetic distance for all 125 accessions together was 0.177 indicating presence of only moderate genetic diversity in the collections. The analysis of molecular variance indicated that only 2.76 % variation was explained by variations among the groups and 11.55 % among populations within groups. However the percentage of variation observed within populations was high (85.68). The value of Fst was observed to be very low (0.028) indicating low differentiation of the accessions analysed. The population genetic analysis carried out indicates that highest number of alleles per locus (1.745 ± 0.438) was observed for Andhra Pradesh with 35 accessions. When four eco-geographic regions were considered, the southern region comprising AP, Karnataka and TN showed the highest number of alleles per locus (1.787 ± 0.411). The value of Gst was lowest for south (0.123) and highest for central west (0.455). This indicated that all the landraces from south share common alleles. The gene flow between the accessions from different regions was also observed to be high with the highest migration (3.557) recorded for south.
PMCID: PMC3550584  PMID: 23573030
Foxtail; Genetic diversity; RAPD; ISSR markers; Spatial distribution
11.  Polymorphic Alu Insertion/Deletion in Different Caste and Tribal Populations from South India 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0157468.
Seven human-specific Alu markers were studied in 574 unrelated individuals from 10 endogamous groups and 2 hill tribes of Tamil Nadu and Kerala states. DNA was isolated, amplified by PCR-SSP, and subjected to agarose gel electrophoresis, and genotypes were assigned for various Alu loci. Average heterozygosity among caste populations was in the range of 0.292–0.468. Among tribes, the average heterozygosity was higher for Paliyan (0.3759) than for Kani (0.2915). Frequency differences were prominent in all loci studied except Alu CD4. For Alu CD4, the frequency was 0.0363 in Yadavas, a traditional pastoral and herd maintaining population, and 0.2439 in Narikuravars, a nomadic gypsy population. The overall genetic difference (Gst) of 12 populations (castes and tribes) studied was 3.6%, which corresponds to the Gst values of 3.6% recorded earlier for Western Asian populations. Thus, our study confirms the genetic similarities between West Asian populations and South Indian castes and tribes and supported the large scale coastal migrations from Africa into India through West Asia. However, the average genetic difference (Gst) of Kani and Paliyan tribes with other South Indian tribes studied earlier was 8.3%. The average Gst of combined South and North Indian Tribes (CSNIT) was 9.5%. Neighbor joining tree constructed showed close proximity of Kani and Paliyan tribal groups to the other two South Indian tribes, Toda and Irula of Nilgiri hills studied earlier. Further, the analysis revealed the affinities among populations and confirmed the presence of North and South India specific lineages. Our findings have documented the highly diverse (micro differentiated) nature of South Indian tribes, predominantly due to isolation, than the endogamous population groups of South India. Thus, our study firmly established the genetic relationship of South Indian castes and tribes and supported the proposed large scale ancestral migrations from Africa, particularly into South India through West Asian corridor.
PMCID: PMC4912101  PMID: 27315142
12.  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
13.  In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians: a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq 
For millennia, the southern part of the Mesopotamia has been a wetland region generated by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers before flowing into the Gulf. This area has been occupied by human communities since ancient times and the present-day inhabitants, the Marsh Arabs, are considered the population with the strongest link to ancient Sumerians. Popular tradition, however, considers the Marsh Arabs as a foreign group, of unknown origin, which arrived in the marshlands when the rearing of water buffalo was introduced to the region.
To shed some light on the paternal and maternal origin of this population, Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation was surveyed in 143 Marsh Arabs and in a large sample of Iraqi controls. Analyses of the haplogroups and sub-haplogroups observed in the Marsh Arabs revealed a prevalent autochthonous Middle Eastern component for both male and female gene pools, with weak South-West Asian and African contributions, more evident in mtDNA. A higher male than female homogeneity is characteristic of the Marsh Arab gene pool, likely due to a strong male genetic drift determined by socio-cultural factors (patrilocality, polygamy, unequal male and female migration rates).
Evidence of genetic stratification ascribable to the Sumerian development was provided by the Y-chromosome data where the J1-Page08 branch reveals a local expansion, almost contemporary with the Sumerian City State period that characterized Southern Mesopotamia. On the other hand, a more ancient background shared with Northern Mesopotamia is revealed by the less represented Y-chromosome lineage J1-M267*. Overall our results indicate that the introduction of water buffalo breeding and rice farming, most likely from the Indian sub-continent, only marginally affected the gene pool of autochthonous people of the region. Furthermore, a prevalent Middle Eastern ancestry of the modern population of the marshes of southern Iraq implies that if the Marsh Arabs are descendants of the ancient Sumerians, also the Sumerians were most likely autochthonous and not of Indian or South Asian ancestry.
PMCID: PMC3215667  PMID: 21970613
14.  Exploring the Y Chromosomal Ancestry of Modern Panamanians 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0144223.
Geologically, Panama belongs to the Central American land-bridge between North and South America crossed by Homo sapiens >14 ka ago. Archaeologically, it belongs to a wider Isthmo-Colombian Area. Today, seven indigenous ethnic groups account for 12.3% of Panama’s population. Five speak Chibchan languages and are characterized by low genetic diversity and a high level of differentiation. In addition, no evidence of differential structuring between maternally and paternally inherited genes has been reported in isthmian Chibchan cultural groups. Recent data have shown that 83% of the Panamanian general population harbour mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) of Native American ancestry. Considering differential male/female mortality at European contact and multiple degrees of geographical and genetic isolation over the subsequent five centuries, the Y-chromosome Native American component is expected to vary across different geographic regions and communities in Panama. To address this issue, we investigated Y-chromosome variation in 408 modern males from the nine provinces of Panama and one indigenous territory (the comarca of Kuna Yala). In contrast to mtDNA data, the Y-chromosome Native American component (haplogroup Q) exceeds 50% only in three populations facing the Caribbean Sea: the comarca of Kuna Yala and Bocas del Toro province where Chibchan languages are spoken by the majority, and the province of Colón where many Kuna and people of mixed indigenous-African-and-European descent live. Elsewhere the Old World component is dominant and mostly represented by western Eurasian haplogroups, which signal the strong male genetic impact of invaders. Sub-Saharan African input accounts for 5.9% of male haplotypes. This reflects the consequences of the colonial Atlantic slave trade and more recent influxes of West Indians of African heritage. Overall, our findings reveal a local evolution of the male Native American ancestral gene pool, and a strong but geographically differentiated unidirectional sex bias in the formation of local modern Panamanian populations.
PMCID: PMC4670172  PMID: 26636572
15.  Human Y chromosome haplogroup R-V88: a paternal genetic record of early mid Holocene trans-Saharan connections and the spread of Chadic languages 
Although human Y chromosomes belonging to haplogroup R1b are quite rare in Africa, being found mainly in Asia and Europe, a group of chromosomes within the paragroup R-P25* are found concentrated in the central-western part of the African continent, where they can be detected at frequencies as high as 95%. Phylogenetic evidence and coalescence time estimates suggest that R-P25* chromosomes (or their phylogenetic ancestor) may have been carried to Africa by an Asia-to-Africa back migration in prehistoric times. Here, we describe six new mutations that define the relationships among the African R-P25* Y chromosomes and between these African chromosomes and earlier reported R-P25 Eurasian sub-lineages. The incorporation of these new mutations into a phylogeny of the R1b haplogroup led to the identification of a new clade (R1b1a or R-V88) encompassing all the African R-P25* and about half of the few European/west Asian R-P25* chromosomes. A worldwide phylogeographic analysis of the R1b haplogroup provided strong support to the Asia-to-Africa back-migration hypothesis. The analysis of the distribution of the R-V88 haplogroup in >1800 males from 69 African populations revealed a striking genetic contiguity between the Chadic-speaking peoples from the central Sahel and several other Afroasiatic-speaking groups from North Africa. The R-V88 coalescence time was estimated at 9200–5600 kya, in the early mid Holocene. We suggest that R-V88 is a paternal genetic record of the proposed mid-Holocene migration of proto-Chadic Afroasiatic speakers through the Central Sahara into the Lake Chad Basin, and geomorphological evidence is consistent with this view.
PMCID: PMC2987365  PMID: 20051990
Y chromosome haplogroups; human migrations; Holocene; Africa; Chadic-speaking populations
16.  Molecular Genealogy of a Mongol Queen’s Family and Her Possible Kinship with Genghis Khan 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(9):e0161622.
Members of the Mongol imperial family (designated the Golden family) are buried in a secret necropolis; therefore, none of their burial grounds have been found. In 2004, we first discovered 5 graves belonging to the Golden family in Tavan Tolgoi, Eastern Mongolia. To define the genealogy of the 5 bodies and the kinship among them, SNP and/or STR profiles of mitochondria, autosomes, and Y chromosomes were analyzed. Four of the 5 bodies were determined to carry the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup D4, while the fifth carried haplogroup CZ, indicating that this individual had no kinship with the others. Meanwhile, Y-SNP and Y-STR profiles indicate that the males examined belonged to the R1b-M343 haplogroup. Thus, their East Asian D4 or CZ matrilineal and West Eurasian R1b-M343 patrilineal origins reveal genealogical admixture between Caucasoid and Mongoloid ethnic groups, despite a Mongoloid physical appearance. In addition, Y chromosomal and autosomal STR profiles revealed that the four D4-carrying bodies bore the relationship of either mother and three sons or four full siblings with almost the same probability. Moreover, the geographical distribution of R1b-M343-carrying modern-day individuals demonstrates that descendants of Tavan Tolgoi bodies today live mainly in Western Eurasia, with a high frequency in the territories of the past Mongol khanates. Here, we propose that Genghis Khan and his family carried Y-haplogroup R1b-M343, which is prevalent in West Eurasia, rather than the Y-haplogroup C3c-M48, which is prevalent in Asia and which is widely accepted to be present in the family members of Genghis Khan. Additionally, Tavan Tolgoi bodies may have been the product of marriages between the lineage of Genghis Khan’s Borjigin clan and the lineage of either the Ongud or Hongirad clans, indicating that these individuals were members of Genghis Khan’s immediate family or his close relatives.
PMCID: PMC5023095  PMID: 27627454
17.  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
18.  The Light Skin Allele of SLC24A5 in South Asians and Europeans Shares Identity by Descent 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(11):e1003912.
Skin pigmentation is one of the most variable phenotypic traits in humans. A non-synonymous substitution (rs1426654) in the third exon of SLC24A5 accounts for lighter skin in Europeans but not in East Asians. A previous genome-wide association study carried out in a heterogeneous sample of UK immigrants of South Asian descent suggested that this gene also contributes significantly to skin pigmentation variation among South Asians. In the present study, we have quantitatively assessed skin pigmentation for a largely homogeneous cohort of 1228 individuals from the Southern region of the Indian subcontinent. Our data confirm significant association of rs1426654 SNP with skin pigmentation, explaining about 27% of total phenotypic variation in the cohort studied. Our extensive survey of the polymorphism in 1573 individuals from 54 ethnic populations across the Indian subcontinent reveals wide presence of the derived-A allele, although the frequencies vary substantially among populations. We also show that the geospatial pattern of this allele is complex, but most importantly, reflects strong influence of language, geography and demographic history of the populations. Sequencing 11.74 kb of SLC24A5 in 95 individuals worldwide reveals that the rs1426654-A alleles in South Asian and West Eurasian populations are monophyletic and occur on the background of a common haplotype that is characterized by low genetic diversity. We date the coalescence of the light skin associated allele at 22–28 KYA. Both our sequence and genome-wide genotype data confirm that this gene has been a target for positive selection among Europeans. However, the latter also shows additional evidence of selection in populations of the Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan and North India but not in South India.
Author Summary
Human skin color is one of the most visible aspects of human diversity. The genetic basis of pigmentation in Europeans has been understood to some extent, but our knowledge about South Asians has been restricted to a handful of studies. It has been suggested that a single nucleotide difference in SLC24A5 accounts for 25–38% European-African pigmentation differences and correlates with lighter skin. This genetic variant has also been associated with skin color variation among South Asians living in the UK. Here, we report a study based on a homogenous cohort of South India. Our results confirm that SLC24A5 plays a key role in pigmentation diversity of South Asians. Country-wide screening of the variant reveals that the light skin associated allele is widespread in the Indian subcontinent and its complex patterning is shaped by a combination of processes involving selection and demographic history of the populations. By studying the variation of SLC24A5 sequences among a diverse set of individuals, we show that the light skin associated allele in South Asians is identical by descent to that found in Europeans. Our study also provides new insights into positive selection acting on the gene and the evolutionary history of light skin in humans.
PMCID: PMC3820762  PMID: 24244186
19.  Genetic affinities between endogamous and inbreeding populations of Uttar Pradesh 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:12.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC1855350  PMID: 17417972
20.  Introducing the Algerian Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Profiles into the North African Landscape 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56775.
North Africa is considered a distinct geographic and ethnic entity within Africa. Although modern humans originated in this Continent, studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome genealogical markers provide evidence that the North African gene pool has been shaped by the back-migration of several Eurasian lineages in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. More recent influences from sub-Saharan Africa and Mediterranean Europe are also evident. The presence of East-West and North-South haplogroup frequency gradients strongly reinforces the genetic complexity of this region. However, this genetic scenario is beset with a notable gap, which is the lack of consistent information for Algeria, the largest country in the Maghreb. To fill this gap, we analyzed a sample of 240 unrelated subjects from a northwest Algeria cosmopolitan population using mtDNA sequences and Y-chromosome biallelic polymorphisms, focusing on the fine dissection of haplogroups E and R, which are the most prevalent in North Africa and Europe respectively. The Eurasian component in Algeria reached 80% for mtDNA and 90% for Y-chromosome. However, within them, the North African genetic component for mtDNA (U6 and M1; 20%) is significantly smaller than the paternal (E-M81 and E-V65; 70%). The unexpected presence of the European-derived Y-chromosome lineages R-M412, R-S116, R-U152 and R-M529 in Algeria and the rest of the Maghreb could be the counterparts of the mtDNA H1, H3 and V subgroups, pointing to direct maritime contacts between the European and North African sides of the western Mediterranean. Female influx of sub-Saharan Africans into Algeria (20%) is also significantly greater than the male (10%). In spite of these sexual asymmetries, the Algerian uniparental profiles faithfully correlate between each other and with the geography.
PMCID: PMC3576335  PMID: 23431392
21.  Y Chromosome Haplogroup Distribution in Indo-European Speaking Tribes of Gujarat, Western India 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90414.
The present study was carried out in the Indo-European speaking tribal population groups of Southern Gujarat, India to investigate and reconstruct their paternal population structure and population histories. The role of language, ethnicity and geography in determining the observed pattern of Y haplogroup clustering in the study populations was also examined. A set of 48 bi-allelic markers on the non-recombining region of Y chromosome (NRY) were analysed in 284 males; representing nine Indo-European speaking tribal populations. The genetic structure of the populations revealed that none of these groups was overtly admixed or completely isolated. However, elevated haplogroup diversity and FST value point towards greater diversity and differentiation which suggests the possibility of early demographic expansion of the study groups. The phylogenetic analysis revealed 13 paternal lineages, of which six haplogroups: C5, H1a*, H2, J2, R1a1* and R2 accounted for a major portion of the Y chromosome diversity. The higher frequency of the six haplogroups and the pattern of clustering in the populations indicated overlapping of haplogroups with West and Central Asian populations. Other analyses undertaken on the population affiliations revealed that the Indo-European speaking populations along with the Dravidian speaking groups of southern India have an influence on the tribal groups of Gujarat. The vital role of geography in determining the distribution of Y lineages was also noticed. This implies that although language plays a vital role in determining the distribution of Y lineages, the present day linguistic affiliation of any population in India for reconstructing the demographic history of the country should be considered with caution.
PMCID: PMC3948632  PMID: 24614885
22.  Large scale mitochondrial sequencing in Mexican Americans suggests a reappraisal of Native American origins 
The Asian origin of Native Americans is largely accepted. However uncertainties persist regarding the source population(s) within Asia, the divergence and arrival time(s) of the founder groups, the number of expansion events, and migration routes into the New World. mtDNA data, presented over the past two decades, have been used to suggest a single-migration model for which the Beringian land mass plays an important role.
In our analysis of 568 mitochondrial genomes, the coalescent age estimates of shared roots between Native American and Siberian-Asian lineages, calculated using two different mutation rates, are A4 (27.5 ± 6.8 kya/22.7 ± 7.4 kya), C1 (21.4 ± 2.7 kya/16.4 ± 1.5 kya), C4 (21.0 ± 4.6 kya/20.0 ± 6.4 kya), and D4e1 (24.1 ± 9.0 kya/17.9 ± 10.0 kya). The coalescent age estimates of pan-American haplogroups calculated using the same two mutation rates (A2:19.5 ± 1.3 kya/16.1 ± 1.5 kya, B2:20.8 ± 2.0 kya/18.1 ± 2.4 kya, C1:21.4 ± 2.7 kya/16.4 ± 1.5 kya and D1:17.2 ± 2.0 kya/14.9 ± 2.2 kya) and estimates of population expansions within America (~21-16 kya), support the pre-Clovis occupation of the New World. The phylogeography of sublineages within American haplogroups A2, B2, D1 and the C1b, C1c andC1d subhaplogroups of C1 are complex and largely specific to geographical North, Central and South America. However some sub-branches (B2b, C1b, C1c, C1d and D1f) already existed in American founder haplogroups before expansion into the America.
Our results suggest that Native American founders diverged from their Siberian-Asian progenitors sometime during the last glacial maximum (LGM) and expanded into America soon after the LGM peak (~20-16 kya). The phylogeography of haplogroup C1 suggest that this American founder haplogroup differentiated in Siberia-Asia. The situation is less clear for haplogroup B2, however haplogroups A2 and D1 may have differentiated soon after the Native American founders divergence. A moderate population bottle neck in American founder populations just before the expansion most plausibly resulted in few founder types in America. The similar estimates of the diversity indices and Bayesian skyline analysis in North America, Central America and South America suggest almost simultaneous (~ 2.0 ky from South to North America) colonization of these geographical regions with rapid population expansion differentiating into more or less regional branches across the pan-American haplogroups.
PMCID: PMC3217880  PMID: 21978175
23.  The Peopling of Korea Revealed by Analyses of Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosomal Markers 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(1):e4210.
The Koreans are generally considered a northeast Asian group because of their geographical location. However, recent findings from Y chromosome studies showed that the Korean population contains lineages from both southern and northern parts of East Asia. To understand the genetic history and relationships of Korea more fully, additional data and analyses are necessary.
Methodology and Results
We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variation in the hypervariable segments I and II (HVS-I and HVS-II) and haplogroup-specific mutations in coding regions in 445 individuals from seven east Asian populations (Korean, Korean-Chinese, Mongolian, Manchurian, Han (Beijing), Vietnamese and Thais). In addition, published mtDNA haplogroup data (N = 3307), mtDNA HVS-I sequences (N = 2313), Y chromosome haplogroup data (N = 1697) and Y chromosome STR data (N = 2713) were analyzed to elucidate the genetic structure of East Asian populations. All the mtDNA profiles studied here were classified into subsets of haplogroups common in East Asia, with just two exceptions. In general, the Korean mtDNA profiles revealed similarities to other northeastern Asian populations through analysis of individual haplogroup distributions, genetic distances between populations or an analysis of molecular variance, although a minor southern contribution was also suggested. Reanalysis of Y-chromosomal data confirmed both the overall similarity to other northeastern populations, and also a larger paternal contribution from southeastern populations.
The present work provides evidence that peopling of Korea can be seen as a complex process, interpreted as an early northern Asian settlement with at least one subsequent male-biased southern-to-northern migration, possibly associated with the spread of rice agriculture.
PMCID: PMC2615218  PMID: 19148289
24.  Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup H structure in North Africa 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:8.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2657161  PMID: 19243582
25.  Y-Chromosome distribution within the geo-linguistic landscape of northwestern Russia 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2009;17(10):1260-1273.
Populations of northeastern Europe and the Uralic mountain range are found in close geographic proximity, but they have been subject to different demographic histories. The current study attempts to better understand the genetic paternal relationships of ethnic groups residing in these regions. We have performed high-resolution haplotyping of 236 Y-chromosomes from populations in northwestern Russia and the Uralic mountains, and compared them to relevant previously published data. Haplotype variation and age estimation analyses using 15 Y-STR loci were conducted for samples within the N1b, N1c1 and R1a1 single-nucleotide polymorphism backgrounds. Our results suggest that although most genetic relationships throughout Eurasia are dependent on geographic proximity, members of the Uralic and Slavic linguistic families and subfamilies, yield significant correlations at both levels of comparison making it difficult to denote either linguistics or geographic proximity as the basis for their genetic substrata. Expansion times for haplogroup R1a1 date approximately to 18 000 YBP, and age estimates along with Network topology of populations found at opposite poles of its range (Eastern Europe and South Asia) indicate that two separate haplotypic foci exist within this haplogroup. Data based on haplogroup N1b challenge earlier findings and suggest that the mutation may have occurred in the Uralic range rather than in Siberia and much earlier than has been proposed (12.9±4.1 instead of 5.2±2.7 kya). In addition, age and variance estimates for haplogroup N1c1 suggest that populations from the western Urals may have been genetically influenced by a dispersal from northeastern Europe (eg, eastern Slavs) rather than the converse.
PMCID: PMC2986641  PMID: 19259129
Y-chromosome; Y-STRs; northeastern Europe; phylogenetics

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