Kol, Bhil and Gond are some of the ancient tribal populations known from the Ramayana, one of the Great epics of India. Though there have been studies about their affinity based on classical and haploid genetic markers, the molecular insights of their relationship with other tribal and caste populations of extant India is expected to give more clarity about the the question of continuity vs. discontinuity. In this study, we scanned >97,000 of single nucleotide polymorphisms among three major ancient tribes mentioned in Ramayana, namely Bhil, Kol and Gond. The results obtained were then compared at inter and intra population levels with neighboring and other world populations. Using various statistical methods, our analysis suggested that the genetic architecture of these tribes (Kol and Gond) was largely similar to their surrounding tribal and caste populations, while Bhil showed closer affinity with Dravidian and Austroasiatic (Munda) speaking tribes. The haplotype based analysis revealed a massive amount of genome sharing among Bhil, Kol, Gond and with other ethnic groups of South Asian descent. On the basis of genetic component sharing among different populations, we anticipate their primary founding over the indigenous Ancestral South Indian (ASI) component has prevailed in the genepool over the last several thousand years.
Human genetic diversity observed in Indian subcontinent is second only to that of Africa. This implies an early settlement and demographic growth soon after the first 'Out-of-Africa' dispersal of anatomically modern humans in Late Pleistocene. In contrast to this perspective, linguistic diversity in India has been thought to derive from more recent population movements and episodes of contact. With the exception of Dravidian, which origin and relatedness to other language phyla is obscure, all the language families in India can be linked to language families spoken in different regions of Eurasia. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome evidence has supported largely local evolution of the genetic lineages of the majority of Dravidian and Indo-European speaking populations, but there is no consensus yet on the question of whether the Munda (Austro-Asiatic) speaking populations originated in India or derive from a relatively recent migration from further East.
Here, we report the analysis of 35 novel complete mtDNA sequences from India which refine the structure of Indian-specific varieties of haplogroup R. Detailed analysis of haplogroup R7, coupled with a survey of ~12,000 mtDNAs from caste and tribal groups over the entire Indian subcontinent, reveals that one of its more recently derived branches (R7a1), is particularly frequent among Munda-speaking tribal groups. This branch is nested within diverse R7 lineages found among Dravidian and Indo-European speakers of India. We have inferred from this that a subset of Munda-speaking groups have acquired R7 relatively recently. Furthermore, we find that the distribution of R7a1 within the Munda-speakers is largely restricted to one of the sub-branches (Kherwari) of northern Munda languages. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that the Austro-Asiatic speakers are the primary source of the R7 variation. Statistical analyses suggest a significant correlation between genetic variation and geography, rather than between genes and languages.
Our high-resolution phylogeographic study, involving diverse linguistic groups in India, suggests that the high frequency of mtDNA haplogroup R7 among Munda speaking populations of India can be explained best by gene flow from linguistically different populations of Indian subcontinent. The conclusion is based on the observation that among Indo-Europeans, and particularly in Dravidians, the haplogroup is, despite its lower frequency, phylogenetically more divergent, while among the Munda speakers only one sub-clade of R7, i.e. R7a1, can be observed. It is noteworthy that though R7 is autochthonous to India, and arises from the root of hg R, its distribution and phylogeography in India is not uniform. This suggests the more ancient establishment of an autochthonous matrilineal genetic structure, and that isolation in the Pleistocene, lineage loss through drift, and endogamy of prehistoric and historic groups have greatly inhibited genetic homogenization and geographical uniformity.
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.
The northern region of the Indian subcontinent is a vast landscape interlaced by diverse ecologies, for example, the Gangetic Plain and the Himalayas. A great number of ethnic groups are found there, displaying a multitude of languages and cultures. The Tharu is one of the largest and most linguistically diverse of such groups, scattered across the Tarai region of Nepal and bordering Indian states. Their origins are uncertain. Hypotheses have been advanced postulating shared ancestry with Austroasiatic, or Tibeto-Burman-speaking populations as well as aboriginal roots in the Tarai. Several Tharu groups speak a variety of Indo-Aryan languages, but have traditionally been described by ethnographers as representing East Asian phenotype. Their ancestry and intra-population diversity has previously been tested only for haploid (mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome) markers in a small portion of the population. This study presents the first systematic genetic survey of the Tharu from both Nepal and two Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, using genome-wide SNPs and haploid markers. We show that the Tharu have dual genetic ancestry as up to one-half of their gene pool is of East Asian origin. Within the South Asian proportion of the Tharu genetic ancestry, we see vestiges of their common origin in the north of the South Asian Subcontinent manifested by mitochondrial DNA haplogroup M43.
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.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
The genetic diversity and forensic parameters based on 15 autosomal short tandem repeats (STR) loci; D8S1179,D21S11, D7S820, CSF1PO, D3S1358, TH01, D13S317,D16S539, D2S1338, D19S433, vWA, TPOX, D18S51,D5S818, and FGA in AmpFLSTR® Identifiler™ kit from Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA were evaluated in saliva samples of 297 unrelated individuals from the Bhil Tribe population of Gujarat state, India to study genetic diversities and relatedness of this population with other national and international populations.
Statistical analysis of the data revealed all loci were within Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium expectations with the exception of the locus vWA (0.019) and locus D18S51 (0.016). The neighbour joining phylogeny tree and Principal Co-ordinate Analysis plot constructed based on Fst distances from autosomal STRs allele frequencies of the present study and other national as well as international populations show clustering of all the South Asian populations in one branch of the tree, while Middle Eastern and African populations cluster in a separate branch.
Our findings reveal strong genetic affinities seen between the Indo-European (IE) speaking Bhil Tribe of Gujarat and Dravidian groups of South India.
Allelic frequencies; Bhil Tribe; genetic distance; genetic diversity; short tandem repeats
The present sero-genetic study is the first of its kind to present the baseline data of Bharia tribe of Madhya Pradesh. The main aim of this study is to provide phenotype and allele-frequency data to characterize the population genetically and to fill the void on the genetic map of Madhya Pradesh.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
For this, blood samples from 92 unrelated healthy individuals of Bharia tribe from Chhindwara district (Tamia block) were collected. Hemolysates prepared were analyzed for two serological (A1A2BO and Rh) and six biochemical (adenosine deaminase, adenylate kinase locus 1, acid phosphatase locus 1, phosphoglucomutase locus 1, esterase D and glucosephosphate isomerase) parameters, following the standard electrophoretic techniques.
The Chi-square test for goodness of fit revealed no significant deviation between the observed and expected numbers in any of the seven genetic markers, suggesting that the tribe is in genetic equilibrium. A high incidence of B allele in A1A2BO blood group and low incidence of the A1 allele, with presence of A2 in only one individual, and a low frequency of Rh(D) (Rh negative allele) was observed in serological markers. Also, no rare variant was observed for biochemical markers.
Principal Component Analysis done in order to detect the genetic affinity of Bharia tribe with other populations from the adjoining states of Madhya Pradesh based on the allele frequencies, showed a close association of Bharia with Gujarat and Rajasthan. Hence, this study has been helpful in revealing the genetic structure and affinity of Bharia tribe.
Bharia; Madhya Pradesh; sero-genetic
Genetic relationships among the ethnic groups are not uniform across the geographical region. Considering this assumption, we analyzed the frequency of the CC-chemokine receptor-5 (CCR5)-∆32 allele of the CCR5 chemokine receptor, which is considered a Caucasian marker, in Bhil tribal and Brahmin caste sample sets from the population.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
108 blood samples were collected from 6 tribe's populations and a caste population from the district of Vidarbha region.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:
The presence of low frequencies of CCR5-Δ32 in an individual of Bhil tribe (0.034, χ2 value 0.017) in the present study implies that these communities may have a better resistance toward human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) than the other studied tribe sample, as non-show such mutation.
The marginal presence of the allele seen in the studied tribal population could be due to gene flow from the people of European descent. However, lack of the homozygous CCR5-Δ32 mutation and the low prevalence of heterozygous CCR5-Δ32 mutations suggest that the Indians are highly susceptible to HIV/AIDS, and this correlates with the highest number of HIV/AIDS infected individuals in India.
Allele frequency; CC-chemokine receptor-5-∆32; India; genetic polymorphism; tribes; Vidarbha
Differences in the dental arch among Bhil Aboriginals were investigated and compared with non-tribal individuals residing in a tribal zone of Central India. Plaster models (120) were made with the help of alginate impression of tribal adults as well as non-tribal adults residing in the same area. The supposition as aboriginals being primitive due to dietary practices maxillary arch size and mandibular arch size is distended in comparison to the non-tribal population as adaptation of soft refined diet has disrupted the growth of the jaws. Hence, an attempt was made to evaluate the arch widths of tribal population and to associate it with non-tribe population in the same area of Central India.
Materials and Methods:
Difference in morphology and dimension of the maxillary and mandibular arches was aimed at Bhil tribes as well as non-tribal residents of tribe rich zone of Central India. The study was steered amid 120 individuals both tribal and non-tribe equally around 60 each through a well-organized out-reach program intermittently. Study models were made of dental arches of all participants. All measurements of the arch dimension were patent on the study casts using an electronic digital sliding caliper. Pair t-test was applied by using SPSS software version-19.0.
In the maxillary arch, on appraisal the non-tribal and Bhil tribe’s subjects, it showed a statistically significant difference in inter-incisor width (2.95 mm), inter-canine width (2.60 mm), arch depth (3.25 mm). While inter premolar width (0.20 mm) and inter molar width (0.80 mm) anterior arch length (0.60 mm), and posterior arch length (0.10 mm) showed statistically not significant difference between non-tribal population and Bhil tribe subjects.
In the mandibular arch, it showed a statistically significant difference in inter-canine width (1.00 mm). Although, inter-incisor width (0.72 mm), inter-molar width (0.80 mm), arch depth (0.90 mm), anterior arch length (0.30 mm), posterior arch length (0.35 mm), and curve of Spee (0.13 mm) showed statistically not significant difference between general population and Bhil tribe subjects.
When associated non-tribal population to Bhil tribes subjects, for the morphological and dimensional characteristics of dental arches Bhil tribe subjects exhibited: A narrower and shorter maxilla; reduced mandible size; smaller incisor widths for the maxillary and mandibular arches.
Arch depth; bhil tribe; dental arch
A survey made in 1991-92, reported Sahariya, a primitive tribe of India (M. P.), having high prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis. No follow-up study was undertaken thereafter.
The present study was aimed to know the current status of tuberculosis (TB) in Sahariya after more than a decade of the last survey of 1991-92, as compared to that in Bhil, another primitive tribe living in the same area but never investigated for TB incidence.
Materials and Methods:
A total of 763 random sputum smears from Sahariya and 169 sputum smears from Bhil were screened for the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M..tb) in order to evaluate the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis in both the tribes. Chi square (χ2) statistics was performed to study the correlation between age, sex on the one hand and with the prevalence of smear-positive pulmonary TB on the other hand, if any.
In Sahariya, the prevalence of smear-positive pulmonary TB was found increased significantly (P<0.005) to 0.454 as against 0.274 estimated in the earlier survey (1991-92). Males, particularly, appeared most affected (P<0.005; 0.382), especially adults (0.260). In contrast, among Bhil, the prevalence was very low.
The observed increase in TB prevalence and its gender bias in Sahariya tribe indicate the high incidence rate and faster transmission of infection, especially in male sex.
Bhil; prevalence; Sahariya; sputum smear; tuberculosis
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.
We have examined genetic diversity at fifteen autosomal microsatellite loci in seven predominant populations of Orissa to decipher whether populations inhabiting the same geographic region can be differentiated on the basis of language or ancestry. The studied populations have diverse historical accounts of their origin, belong to two major ethnic groups and different linguistic families. Caucasoid caste populations are speakers of Indo-European language and comprise Brahmins, Khandayat, Karan and Gope, while the three Australoid tribal populations include two Austric speakers: Juang and Saora and a Dravidian speaking population, Paroja. These divergent groups provide a varied substratum for understanding variation of genetic patterns in a geographical area resulting from differential admixture between migrants groups and aboriginals, and the influence of this admixture on population stratification.
The allele distribution pattern showed uniformity in the studied groups with approximately 81% genetic variability within populations. The coefficient of gene differentiation was found to be significantly higher in tribes (0.014) than caste groups (0.004). Genetic variance between the groups was 0.34% in both ethnic and linguistic clusters and statistically significant only in the ethnic apportionment. Although the populations were genetically close (FST = 0.010), the contemporary caste and tribal groups formed distinct clusters in both Principal-Component plot and Neighbor-Joining tree. In the phylogenetic tree, the Orissa Brahmins showed close affinity to populations of North India, while Khandayat and Gope clustered with the tribal groups, suggesting a possibility of their origin from indigenous people.
The extent of genetic differentiation in the contemporary caste and tribal groups of Orissa is highly significant and constitutes two distinct genetic clusters. Based on our observations, we suggest that since genetic distances and coefficient of gene differentiation were fairly small, the studied populations are indeed genetically similar and that the genetic structure of populations in a geographical region is primarily influenced by their ancestry and not by socio-cultural hierarchy or language. The scenario of genetic structure, however, might be different for other regions of the subcontinent where populations have more similar ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and there might be variations in the patterns of genomic and socio-cultural affinities in different geographical regions.
The geographic origin and time of dispersal of Austroasiatic (AA) speakers, presently settled in south and southeast Asia, remains disputed. Two rival hypotheses, both assuming a demic component to the language dispersal, have been proposed. The first of these places the origin of Austroasiatic speakers in southeast Asia with a later dispersal to south Asia during the Neolithic, whereas the second hypothesis advocates pre-Neolithic origins and dispersal of this language family from south Asia. To test the two alternative models, this study combines the analysis of uniparentally inherited markers with 610,000 common single nucleotide polymorphism loci from the nuclear genome. Indian AA speakers have high frequencies of Y chromosome haplogroup O2a; our results show that this haplogroup has significantly higher diversity and coalescent time (17–28 thousand years ago) in southeast Asia, strongly supporting the first of the two hypotheses. Nevertheless, the results of principal component and “structure-like” analyses on autosomal loci also show that the population history of AA speakers in India is more complex, being characterized by two ancestral components—one represented in the pattern of Y chromosomal and EDAR results and the other by mitochondrial DNA diversity and genomic structure. We propose that AA speakers in India today are derived from dispersal from southeast Asia, followed by extensive sex-specific admixture with local Indian populations.
Austroasiatic; mtDNA; Y chromosome; autosomes; admixture
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.
India is home to many ethnically and linguistically diverse populations. It is hypothesized that history of invasions by people from Persia and Central Asia, who are referred as Aryans in Hindu Holy Scriptures, had a defining role in shaping the Indian population canvas. A shift in spoken languages from Dravidian languages to Indo-European languages around 1500 B.C. is central to the Aryan Invasion Theory. Here we investigate the genetic differences between two sub-populations of India consisting of: (1) The Indo-European language speaking Gujarati Indians with genome-wide data from the International HapMap Project; and (2) the Dravidian language speaking Tamil Indians with genome-wide data from the Singapore Genome Variation Project.
We implemented three population genetics measures to identify genomic regions that are significantly differentiated between the two Indian populations originating from the north and south of India. These measures singled out genomic regions with: (i) SNPs exhibiting significant variation in allele frequencies in the two Indian populations; and (ii) differential signals of positive natural selection as quantified by the integrated haplotype score (iHS) and cross-population extended haplotype homozygosity (XP-EHH). One of the regions that emerged spans the SLC24A5 gene that has been functionally shown to affect skin pigmentation, with a higher degree of genetic sharing between Gujarati Indians and Europeans.
Our finding points to a gene-flow from Europe to north India that provides an explanation for the lighter skin tones present in North Indians in comparison to South Indians.
Positive selection; Long haplotype; Population diversity
The Bhils are inhabitants of Dhar, Jhabua, Khargone and Ratlam distrcits of Madhya Pradesh. A large number of Bhils live in the neighbouring States of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. They constitute the third largest tribe of India; the first two being Gonds and Santhals. They utilize a large number of plant species occurring wild in the district as herbal remedies in various diseases and ailments. An ethno-medico-botanical survey was conducted in the tribal blocks. Viz. Kathiware, Alirajpur and Sodhwa blocks of Jhabua district, M. P. The authors have gathered first-hand information on seventy – five plant species and their mode of therapeutic uses from the tribal medicine men ‘Badwa’ and other experienced tribals. The present study has brought of light some interesting data on potential medicinal plants which will be screened for determining their therapeutic and pharmacodynamic properties.
The present study was undertaken to determine the extent of diversity at 12 microsatellite short tandem repeat (STR) loci in seven primitive tribal populations of India with diverse linguistic and geographic backgrounds. DNA samples of 160 unrelated individuals were analyzed for 12 STR loci by multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Gene diversity analysis suggested that the average heterozygosity was uniformly high ( >0.7) in these groups and varied from 0.705 to 0.794. The Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium analysis revealed that these populations were in genetic equilibrium at almost all the loci. The overall GST value was high (GST = 0.051; range between 0.026 and 0.098 among the loci), reflecting the degree of differentiation/heterogeneity of seven populations studied for these loci. The cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling of genetic distances reveal two broad clusters of populations, besides Moolu Kurumba maintaining their distinct genetic identity vis-à-vis other populations. The genetic affinity for the three tribes of the Indo-European family could be explained based on geography and Language but not for the four Dravidian tribes as reflected by the NJT and MDS plots. For the overall data, the insignificant MANTEL correlations between genetic, linguistic and geographic distances suggest that the genetic variation among these tribes is not patterned along geographic and/or linguistic lines.
Genetic diversity; India; microsatellite; polymorphism STRs; tribes
Previous studies that pooled Indian populations from a wide variety of geographical locations, have obtained contradictory conclusions about the processes of the establishment of the Varna caste system and its genetic impact on the origins and demographic histories of Indian populations. To further investigate these questions we took advantage that both Y chromosome and caste designation are paternally inherited, and genotyped 1,680 Y chromosomes representing 12 tribal and 19 non-tribal (caste) endogamous populations from the predominantly Dravidian-speaking Tamil Nadu state in the southernmost part of India. Tribes and castes were both characterized by an overwhelming proportion of putatively Indian autochthonous Y-chromosomal haplogroups (H-M69, F-M89, R1a1-M17, L1-M27, R2-M124, and C5-M356; 81% combined) with a shared genetic heritage dating back to the late Pleistocene (10–30 Kya), suggesting that more recent Holocene migrations from western Eurasia contributed <20% of the male lineages. We found strong evidence for genetic structure, associated primarily with the current mode of subsistence. Coalescence analysis suggested that the social stratification was established 4–6 Kya and there was little admixture during the last 3 Kya, implying a minimal genetic impact of the Varna (caste) system from the historically-documented Brahmin migrations into the area. In contrast, the overall Y-chromosomal patterns, the time depth of population diversifications and the period of differentiation were best explained by the emergence of agricultural technology in South Asia. These results highlight the utility of detailed local genetic studies within India, without prior assumptions about the importance of Varna rank status for population grouping, to obtain new insights into the relative influences of past demographic events for the population structure of the whole of modern India.
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.
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.
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.
Paternal lineages; Y-chromosomal markers; North Indians; migration
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gujarat is located at the western most point of the Indian subcontinent. Valsad and Surat districts are part of the ‘tribal belt’of Gujarat and constitute 29.1% of total tribal population of Gujarat. These tribal populations are a rich source of gaining insights in the patterns of genetic diversity and genetico-environmental disorders against the back drop of their ecological, historical and ethnographic aspects.
The objectives were to find out a) the genetic diversity among the tribes of Gujarat with reference to haptoglobin (Hp) locus b) the relationship between Hp polymorphism and sickle cell anemia/trait.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
431 individuals belonging to eight tribal groups were studied for Hp polymorphism using polyacrylamide disc gel electrophoresis (PAGE). Hb*S was screened by dithionate tube turbididy (DTT) test and confirmed using cellulose acetate membrane electrophoresis (CAME).
Allele frequency was calculated by direct gene counting method. Average heterozygosity and gene diversity were computed using software DISPAN. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) was estimated using software ARLEQUIN version 3.1.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS:
Pattern of allele frequency distribution showed preponderance of Hp2 allele in all the eight tribal groups, which is in accordance with its frequency in different populations of Indian subcontinent. Total average heterozygosity (HT) was found to be low (0.160) but the level of genetic differentiation (GST) was found to be moderately high (5.6%). AMOVA analysis indicated least among group variance between west and south Indian populations (-0.04%) indicating the affinities of the tribes of Gujarat with that of Dravidian speaking groups. Analysis of Hp phenotypes among sickle cell anemia/ trait individuals revealed a high frequency of Hp 0-0 phenotype (92.7%) among SS individuals as opposed to only 9.7% among AS individuals, reaffirming the selective advantage of HbAS state in relation to hemolytic disorders.
AMOVA; haptoglobin; heterozygosity; hypohaptoglobinaemia; sickle cell anemia; tribes.