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1.  Reconstructing the Indian Origin and Dispersal of the European Roma: A Maternal Genetic Perspective 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15988.
Previous genetic, anthropological and linguistic studies have shown that Roma (Gypsies) constitute a founder population dispersed throughout Europe whose origins might be traced to the Indian subcontinent. Linguistic and anthropological evidence point to Indo-Aryan ethnic groups from North-western India as the ancestral parental population of Roma. Recently, a strong genetic hint supporting this theory came from a study of a private mutation causing primary congenital glaucoma. In the present study, complete mitochondrial control sequences of Iberian Roma and previously published maternal lineages of other European Roma were analyzed in order to establish the genetic affinities among Roma groups, determine the degree of admixture with neighbouring populations, infer the migration routes followed since the first arrival to Europe, and survey the origin of Roma within the Indian subcontinent. Our results show that the maternal lineage composition in the Roma groups follows a pattern of different migration routes, with several founder effects, and low effective population sizes along their dispersal. Our data allowed the confirmation of a North/West migration route shared by Polish, Lithuanian and Iberian Roma. Additionally, eleven Roma founder lineages were identified and degrees of admixture with host populations were estimated. Finally, the comparison with an extensive database of Indian sequences allowed us to identify the Punjab state, in North-western India, as the putative ancestral homeland of the European Roma, in agreement with previous linguistic and anthropological studies.
PMCID: PMC3018485  PMID: 21264345
2.  Reconstructing Roma History from Genome-Wide Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58633.
The Roma people, living throughout Europe and West Asia, are a diverse population linked by the Romani language and culture. Previous linguistic and genetic studies have suggested that the Roma migrated into Europe from South Asia about 1,000–1,500 years ago. Genetic inferences about Roma history have mostly focused on the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. To explore what additional information can be learned from genome-wide data, we analyzed data from six Roma groups that we genotyped at hundreds of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We estimate that the Roma harbor about 80% West Eurasian ancestry–derived from a combination of European and South Asian sources–and that the date of admixture of South Asian and European ancestry was about 850 years before present. We provide evidence for Eastern Europe being a major source of European ancestry, and North-west India being a major source of the South Asian ancestry in the Roma. By computing allele sharing as a measure of linkage disequilibrium, we estimate that the migration of Roma out of the Indian subcontinent was accompanied by a severe founder event, which appears to have been followed by a major demographic expansion after the arrival in Europe.
PMCID: PMC3596272  PMID: 23516520
3.  Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the Indian peninsula 
Human genetic diversity observed in Indian subcontinent is second only to that of Africa. This implies an early settlement and demographic growth soon after the first 'Out-of-Africa' dispersal of anatomically modern humans in Late Pleistocene. In contrast to this perspective, linguistic diversity in India has been thought to derive from more recent population movements and episodes of contact. With the exception of Dravidian, which origin and relatedness to other language phyla is obscure, all the language families in India can be linked to language families spoken in different regions of Eurasia. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome evidence has supported largely local evolution of the genetic lineages of the majority of Dravidian and Indo-European speaking populations, but there is no consensus yet on the question of whether the Munda (Austro-Asiatic) speaking populations originated in India or derive from a relatively recent migration from further East.
Here, we report the analysis of 35 novel complete mtDNA sequences from India which refine the structure of Indian-specific varieties of haplogroup R. Detailed analysis of haplogroup R7, coupled with a survey of ~12,000 mtDNAs from caste and tribal groups over the entire Indian subcontinent, reveals that one of its more recently derived branches (R7a1), is particularly frequent among Munda-speaking tribal groups. This branch is nested within diverse R7 lineages found among Dravidian and Indo-European speakers of India. We have inferred from this that a subset of Munda-speaking groups have acquired R7 relatively recently. Furthermore, we find that the distribution of R7a1 within the Munda-speakers is largely restricted to one of the sub-branches (Kherwari) of northern Munda languages. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that the Austro-Asiatic speakers are the primary source of the R7 variation. Statistical analyses suggest a significant correlation between genetic variation and geography, rather than between genes and languages.
Our high-resolution phylogeographic study, involving diverse linguistic groups in India, suggests that the high frequency of mtDNA haplogroup R7 among Munda speaking populations of India can be explained best by gene flow from linguistically different populations of Indian subcontinent. The conclusion is based on the observation that among Indo-Europeans, and particularly in Dravidians, the haplogroup is, despite its lower frequency, phylogenetically more divergent, while among the Munda speakers only one sub-clade of R7, i.e. R7a1, can be observed. It is noteworthy that though R7 is autochthonous to India, and arises from the root of hg R, its distribution and phylogeography in India is not uniform. This suggests the more ancient establishment of an autochthonous matrilineal genetic structure, and that isolation in the Pleistocene, lineage loss through drift, and endogamy of prehistoric and historic groups have greatly inhibited genetic homogenization and geographical uniformity.
PMCID: PMC2529308  PMID: 18680585
4.  Indian Signatures in the Westernmost Edge of the European Romani Diaspora: New Insight from Mitogenomes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75397.
In agreement with historical documentation, several genetic studies have revealed ancestral links between the European Romani and India. The entire mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 27 Spanish Romani was sequenced in order to shed further light on the origins of this population. The data were analyzed together with a large published dataset (mainly hypervariable region I [HVS-I] haplotypes) of Romani (N = 1,353) and non-Romani worldwide populations (N>150,000). Analysis of mitogenomes allowed the characterization of various Romani-specific clades. M5a1b1a1 is the most distinctive European Romani haplogroup; it is present in all Romani groups at variable frequencies (with only sporadic findings in non-Romani) and represents 18% of their mtDNA pool. Its phylogeographic features indicate that M5a1b1a1 originated 1.5 thousand years ago (kya; 95% CI: 1.3–1.8) in a proto-Romani population living in Northwest India. U3 represents the most characteristic Romani haplogroup of European/Near Eastern origin (12.4%); it appears at dissimilar frequencies across the continent (Iberia: ∼31%; Eastern/Central Europe: ∼13%). All U3 mitogenomes of our Iberian Romani sample fall within a new sub-clade, U3b1c, which can be dated to 0.5 kya (95% CI: 0.3–0.7); therefore, signaling a lower bound for the founder event that followed admixture in Europe/Near East. Other minor European/Near Eastern haplogroups (e.g. H24, H88a) were also assimilated into the Romani by introgression with neighboring populations during their diaspora into Europe; yet some show a differentiation from the phylogenetically closest non-Romani counterpart. The phylogeny of Romani mitogenomes shows clear signatures of low effective population sizes and founder effects. Overall, these results are in good agreement with historical documentation, suggesting that cultural identity and relative isolation have allowed the Romani to preserve a distinctive mtDNA heritage, with some features linking them unequivocally to their ancestral Indian homeland.
PMCID: PMC3797067  PMID: 24143169
5.  Investigating the Global Dispersal of Chickens in Prehistory Using Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Signatures 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39171.
Data from morphology, linguistics, history, and archaeology have all been used to trace the dispersal of chickens from Asian domestication centers to their current global distribution. Each provides a unique perspective which can aid in the reconstruction of prehistory. This study expands on previous investigations by adding a temporal component from ancient DNA and, in some cases, direct dating of bones of individual chickens from a variety of sites in Europe, the Pacific, and the Americas. The results from the ancient DNA analyses of forty-eight archaeologically derived chicken bones provide support for archaeological hypotheses about the prehistoric human transport of chickens. Haplogroup E mtDNA signatures have been amplified from directly dated samples originating in Europe at 1000 B.P. and in the Pacific at 3000 B.P. indicating multiple prehistoric dispersals from a single Asian centre. These two dispersal pathways converged in the Americas where chickens were introduced both by Polynesians and later by Europeans. The results of this study also highlight the inappropriate application of the small stretch of D-loop, traditionally amplified for use in phylogenetic studies, to understanding discrete episodes of chicken translocation in the past. The results of this study lead to the proposal of four hypotheses which will require further scrutiny and rigorous future testing.
PMCID: PMC3405094  PMID: 22848352
6.  The origin of Eastern European Jews revealed by autosomal, sex chromosomal and mtDNA polymorphisms 
Biology Direct  2010;5:57.
This study aims to establish the likely origin of EEJ (Eastern European Jews) by genetic distance analysis of autosomal markers and haplogroups on the X and Y chromosomes and mtDNA.
According to the autosomal polymorphisms the investigated Jewish populations do not share a common origin, and EEJ are closer to Italians in particular and to Europeans in general than to the other Jewish populations. The similarity of EEJ to Italians and Europeans is also supported by the X chromosomal haplogroups. In contrast according to the Y-chromosomal haplogroups EEJ are closest to the non-Jewish populations of the Eastern Mediterranean. MtDNA shows a mixed pattern, but overall EEJ are more distant from most populations and hold a marginal rather than a central position. The autosomal genetic distance matrix has a very high correlation (0.789) with geography, whereas the X-chromosomal, Y-chromosomal and mtDNA matrices have a lower correlation (0.540, 0.395 and 0.641 respectively).
The close genetic resemblance to Italians accords with the historical presumption that Ashkenazi Jews started their migrations across Europe in Italy and with historical evidence that conversion to Judaism was common in ancient Rome. The reasons for the discrepancy between the biparental markers and the uniparental markers are discussed.
This article was reviewed by Damian Labuda (nominated by Jerzy Jurka), Kateryna Makova and Qasim Ayub (nominated by Dan Graur).
PMCID: PMC2964539  PMID: 20925954
7.  Access to health care for Roma children in Central and Eastern Europe: findings from a qualitative study in Bulgaria 
Despite the attention the situation of the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe has received in the context of European Union enlargement, research on their access to health services is very limited, in particular with regard to child health services.
50 qualitative in-depth interviews with users, providers and policy-makers concerned with child health services in Bulgaria, conducted in two villages, one town of 70,000 inhabitants, and the capital Sofia.
Our findings provide important empirical evidence on the range of barriers Roma children face when accessing health services. Among the most important barriers are poverty, administrative and geographical obstacles, low levels of parental education, and lack of ways to accommodate the cultural, linguistic and religious specifics of this population group.
Our research illustrates the complexity of the problems the Roma face. Access to health care cannot be discussed in isolation from other problems this population group experiences, such as poverty, restricted access to education, and social exclusion.
PMCID: PMC2709897  PMID: 19566936
8.  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
9.  Phylogeography of the ant Myrmica rubra and its inquiline social parasite 
Ecology and Evolution  2011;1(1):46-62.
Widely distributed Palearctic insects are ideal to study phylogeographic patterns owing to their high potential to survive in many Pleistocene refugia and—after the glaciation—to recolonize vast, continuous areas. Nevertheless, such species have received little phylogeographic attention. Here, we investigated the Pleistocene refugia and subsequent postglacial colonization of the common, abundant, and widely distributed ant Myrmica rubra over most of its Palearctic area, using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The western and eastern populations of M. rubra belonged predominantly to separate haplogroups, which formed a broad secondary contact zone in Central Europe. The distribution of genetic diversity and haplogroups implied that M. rubra survived the last glaciation in multiple refugia located over an extensive area from Iberia in the west to Siberia in the east, and colonized its present areas of distribution along several routes. The matrilineal genetic structure of M. rubra was probably formed during the last glaciation and subsequent postglacial expansion. Additionally, because M. rubra has two queen morphs, the obligately socially parasitic microgyne and its macrogyne host, we tested the suggested speciation of the parasite. Locally, the parasite and host usually belonged to the same haplogroup but differed in haplotype frequencies. This indicates that genetic differentiation between the morphs is a universal pattern and thus incipient, sympatric speciation of the parasite from its host is possible. If speciation is taking place, however, it is not yet visible as lineage sorting of the mtDNA between the morphs.
PMCID: PMC3287377  PMID: 22393482
Hymenoptera; inquilinism; Pleistocene glaciations; postglacial recolonization; social parasitism; speciation
10.  Genetic differences between Chibcha and Non-Chibcha speaking tribes based on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups from 21 Amerindian tribes from Colombia 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2013;36(2):149-157.
We analyzed the frequency of four mitochondrial DNA haplogroups in 424 individuals from 21 Colombian Amerindian tribes. Our results showed a high degree of mtDNA diversity and genetic heterogeneity. Frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups A and C were high in the majority of populations studied. The distribution of these four mtDNA haplogroups from Amerindian populations was different in the northern region of the country compared to those in the south. Haplogroup A was more frequently found among Amerindian tribes in northern Colombia, while haplogroup D was more frequent among tribes in the south. Haplogroups A, C and D have clinal tendencies in Colombia and South America in general. Populations belonging to the Chibcha linguistic family of Colombia and other countries nearby showed a strong genetic differentiation from the other populations tested, thus corroborating previous findings. Genetically, the Ingano, Paez and Guambiano populations are more closely related to other groups of south eastern Colombia, as also inferred from other genetic markers and from archeological data. Strong evidence for a correspondence between geographical and linguistic classification was found, and this is consistent with evidence that gene flow and the exchange of customs and knowledge and language elements between groups is facilitated by close proximity.
PMCID: PMC3715279  PMID: 23885195
mitochondrial DNA; Amerindian; Colombia; Chibcha; genetic relationships
11.  Uniparental Genetic Heritage of Belarusians: Encounter of Rare Middle Eastern Matrilineages with a Central European Mitochondrial DNA Pool 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66499.
Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the nine and half million people inhabiting the Republic of Belarus. Belarusians together with Ukrainians and Russians represent the East Slavic linguistic group, largest both in numbers and territory, inhabiting East Europe alongside Baltic-, Finno-Permic- and Turkic-speaking people. Till date, only a limited number of low resolution genetic studies have been performed on this population. Therefore, with the phylogeographic analysis of 565 Y-chromosomes and 267 mitochondrial DNAs from six well covered geographic sub-regions of Belarus we strove to complement the existing genetic profile of eastern Europeans. Our results reveal that around 80% of the paternal Belarusian gene pool is composed of R1a, I2a and N1c Y-chromosome haplogroups – a profile which is very similar to the two other eastern European populations – Ukrainians and Russians. The maternal Belarusian gene pool encompasses a full range of West Eurasian haplogroups and agrees well with the genetic structure of central-east European populations. Our data attest that latitudinal gradients characterize the variation of the uniparentally transmitted gene pools of modern Belarusians. In particular, the Y-chromosome reflects movements of people in central-east Europe, starting probably as early as the beginning of the Holocene. Furthermore, the matrilineal legacy of Belarusians retains two rare mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, N1a3 and N3, whose phylogeographies were explored in detail after de novo sequencing of 20 and 13 complete mitogenomes, respectively, from all over Eurasia. Our phylogeographic analyses reveal that two mitochondrial DNA lineages, N3 and N1a3, both of Middle Eastern origin, might mark distinct events of matrilineal gene flow to Europe: during the mid-Holocene period and around the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3681942  PMID: 23785503
12.  Genetic Affinities of the Central Indian Tribal Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32546.
The central Indian state Madhya Pradesh is often called as ‘heart of India’ and has always been an important region functioning as a trinexus belt for three major language families (Indo-European, Dravidian and Austroasiatic). There are less detailed genetic studies on the populations inhabited in this region. Therefore, this study is an attempt for extensive characterization of genetic ancestries of three tribal populations, namely; Bharia, Bhil and Sahariya, inhabiting this region using haploid and diploid DNA markers.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed high diversity, including some of the older sublineages of M haplogroup and prominent R lineages in all the three tribes. Y-chromosomal biallelic markers revealed high frequency of Austroasiatic-specific M95-O2a haplogroup in Bharia and Sahariya, M82-H1a in Bhil and M17-R1a in Bhil and Sahariya. The results obtained by haploid as well as diploid genetic markers revealed strong genetic affinity of Bharia (a Dravidian speaking tribe) with the Austroasiatic (Munda) group. The gene flow from Austroasiatic group is further confirmed by their Y-STRs haplotype sharing analysis, where we determined their founder haplotype from the North Munda speaking tribe, while, autosomal analysis was largely in concordant with the haploid DNA results.
Bhil exhibited largely Indo-European specific ancestry, while Sahariya and Bharia showed admixed genetic package of Indo-European and Austroasiatic populations. Hence, in a landscape like India, linguistic label doesn't unequivocally follow the genetic footprints.
PMCID: PMC3290590  PMID: 22393414
13.  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
14.  Reconstructing Indian-Australian phylogenetic link 
An early dispersal of biologically and behaviorally modern humans from their African origins to Australia, by at least 45 thousand years via southern Asia has been suggested by studies based on morphology, archaeology and genetics. However, mtDNA lineages sampled so far from south Asia, eastern Asia and Australasia show non-overlapping distributions of haplogroups within pan Eurasian M and N macrohaplogroups. Likewise, support from the archaeology is still ambiguous.
In our completely sequenced 966-mitochondrial genomes from 26 relic tribes of India, we have identified seven genomes, which share two synonymous polymorphisms with the M42 haplogroup, which is specific to Australian Aborigines.
Our results showing a shared mtDNA lineage between Indians and Australian Aborigines provides direct genetic evidence of an early colonization of Australia through south Asia, following the "southern route".
PMCID: PMC2720955  PMID: 19624810
15.  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
16.  Barking up the wrong tree: Modern northern European dogs fail to explain their origin 
Geographic distribution of the genetic diversity in domestic animals, particularly mitochondrial DNA, has often been used to infer centers of domestication. The underlying presumption is that phylogeographic patterns among domesticates were established during, or shortly after the domestication. Human activities are assumed not to have altered the haplogroup frequencies to any great extent. We studied this hypothesis by analyzing 24 mtDNA sequences in ancient Scandinavian dogs. Breeds originating in northern Europe are characterized by having a high frequency of mtDNA sequences belonging to a haplogroup rare in other populations (HgD). This has been suggested to indicate a possible origin of the haplogroup (perhaps even a separate domestication) in central or northern Europe.
The sequences observed in the ancient samples do not include the haplogroup indicative for northern European breeds (HgD). Instead, several of them correspond to haplogroups that are uncommon in the region today and that are supposed to have Asian origin.
We find no evidence for local domestication. We conclude that interpretation of the processes responsible for current domestic haplogroup frequencies should be carried out with caution if based only on contemporary data. They do not only tell their own story, but also that of humans.
PMCID: PMC2288593  PMID: 18307773
17.  Contemporary Genetic Structure, Phylogeography and Past Demographic Processes of Wild Boar Sus scrofa Population in Central and Eastern Europe 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91401.
The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is one of the most widely distributed mammals in Europe. Its demography was affected by various events in the past and today populations are increasing throughout Europe. We examined genetic diversity, structure and population dynamics of wild boar in Central and Eastern Europe. MtDNA control region (664 bp) was sequenced in 254 wild boar from six countries (Poland, Hungary, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the European part of Russia). We detected 16 haplotypes, all known from previous studies in Europe; 14 of them belonged to European 1 (E1) clade, including 13 haplotypes from E1-C and one from E1-A lineages. Two haplotypes belonged respectively to the East Asian and the Near Eastern clade. Both haplotypes were found in Russia and most probably originated from the documented translocations of wild boar. The studied populations showed moderate haplotype (0.714±0.023) and low nucleotide diversity (0.003±0.002). SAMOVA grouped the genetic structuring of Central and Eastern European wild boar into three subpopulations, comprising of: (1) north-eastern Belarus and the European part of Russia, (2) Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and most of Belarus, and (3) Hungary. The multimodal mismatch distribution, Fu's Fs index, Bayesian skyline plot and the high occurrence of shared haplotypes among populations did not suggest strong demographic fluctuations in wild boar numbers in the Holocene and pre-Holocene times. This study showed relatively weak genetic diversity and structure in Central and Eastern European wild boar populations and underlined gaps in our knowledge on the role of southern refugia and demographic processes shaping genetic diversity of wild boar in this part of Europe.
PMCID: PMC3951376  PMID: 24622149
18.  Mitogenomes from Two Uncommon Haplogroups Mark Late Glacial/Postglacial Expansions from the Near East and Neolithic Dispersals within Europe 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70492.
The current human mitochondrial (mtDNA) phylogeny does not equally represent all human populations but is biased in favour of representatives originally from north and central Europe. This especially affects the phylogeny of some uncommon West Eurasian haplogroups, including I and W, whose southern European and Near Eastern components are very poorly represented, suggesting that extensive hidden phylogenetic substructure remains to be uncovered. This study expanded and re-analysed the available datasets of I and W complete mtDNA genomes, reaching a comprehensive 419 mitogenomes, and searched for precise correlations between the ages and geographical distributions of their numerous newly identified subclades with events of human dispersal which contributed to the genetic formation of modern Europeans. Our results showed that haplogroups I (within N1a1b) and W originated in the Near East during the Last Glacial Maximum or pre-warming period (the period of gradual warming between the end of the LGM, ∼19 ky ago, and the beginning of the first main warming phase, ∼15 ky ago) and, like the much more common haplogroups J and T, may have been involved in Late Glacial expansions starting from the Near East. Thus our data contribute to a better definition of the Late and postglacial re-peopling of Europe, providing further evidence for the scenario that major population expansions started after the Last Glacial Maximum but before Neolithic times, but also evidencing traces of diffusion events in several I and W subclades dating to the European Neolithic and restricted to Europe.
PMCID: PMC3729697  PMID: 23936216
19.  Mitochondrial DNA variation and language replacements in the Caucasus. 
Sequences of the first hypervariable segment of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region were obtained from 353 individuals representing nine groups and four major linguistic families (Indo-European, Altaic and North and South Caucasian) of the Caucasus region. The diversity within and between Caucasus populations exceeded the diversity within Europe, but was less than that in the Near East. Caucasus populations occupy an intermediate position between European and Near Eastern populations in tree and principal coordinate analyses, suggesting that they are either ancestral to European populations or derived via admixture from European and Near Eastern populations. The genetic relationships among Caucasus populations reflect geographical rather than linguistic relationships. In particular, the Indo-European-speaking Armenians and Altaic-speaking Azerbaijanians are most closely related to their nearest geographical neighbours in the Caucasus, not their linguistic neighbours (i.e. other Indo-European or Altaic populations). The mtDNA evidence thus suggests that the Armenian and Azerbaijanian languages represent instances of language replacement that had little impact on the mtDNA gene pool.
PMCID: PMC1088727  PMID: 11375109
20.  Indian Ocean Crossroads: Human Genetic Origin and Population Structure in the Maldives 
The Maldives are an 850 km-long string of atolls located centrally in the northern Indian Ocean basin. Because of this geographic situation, the present-day Maldivian population has potential for uncovering genetic signatures of historic migration events in the region. We therefore studied autosomal DNA-, mitochondrial DNA-, and Y-chromosomal DNA markers in a representative sample of 141 unrelated Maldivians, with 119 from six major settlements. We found a total of 63 different mtDNA haplotypes that could be allocated to 29 mtDNA haplogroups, mostly within the M, R, and U clades. We found 66 different Y-STR haplotypes in 10 Y-chromosome haplogroups, predominantly H1, J2, L, R1a1a, and R2. Parental admixture analysis for mtDNA- and Y-haplogroup data indicates a strong genetic link between the Maldive Islands and mainland South Asia, and excludes significant gene flow from Southeast Asia. Paternal admixture from West Asia is detected, but cannot be distinguished from admixture from South Asia. Maternal admixture from West Asia is excluded. Within the Maldives, we find a subtle genetic substructure in all marker systems that is not directly related to geographic distance or linguistic dialect. We found reduced Y-STR diversity and reduced male-mediated gene flow between atolls, suggesting independent male founder effects for each atoll. Detected reduced female-mediated gene flow between atolls confirms a Maldives-specific history of matrilocality. In conclusion, our new genetic data agree with the commonly reported Maldivian ancestry in South Asia, but furthermore suggest multiple, independent immigration events and asymmetrical migration of females and males across the archipelago. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:58–67, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3652038  PMID: 23526367
Y chromosome; mitochondrial DNA; migration; Indo-Aryan languages; South Asia
21.  Genetics, Environment, and Diabetes-Related End-Stage Renal Disease in the Canary Islands 
Aims: Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, complicated with renal disease, have a significantly higher incidence in the Canary Islands than in mainland Spain and other European countries. Present-day Canarian inhabitants consist of a mixed population with North African indigenous and European colonizer ancestors who have rapidly evolved from a rural to an urban life style. The aim of this work was to assess the possible role of genetic and environmental factors on diabetes-related end-stage renal disease incidence in the Canary Islands. Results: For both types of diabetes there is an ethnic susceptibility increased by diabetes family history. Whereas the Y-chromosome does not play a significant role, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup differences point to a maternal origin for this ethnic predisposition, confirming susceptible and protective effects for haplogroups J and T, respectively. In addition, urban life style seems to be an additional risk factor for type 1 diabetes. Conclusions: The maternal ethnic predisposition to diabetes complicated with kidney disease detected in the Canary Islands signals mtDNA and X-chromosome markers as the best candidates to uncover the genetic predisposition to this disease.
PMCID: PMC3422557  PMID: 22480375
22.  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
23.  Austro-Asiatic Tribes of Northeast India Provide Hitherto Missing Genetic Link between South and Southeast Asia 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(11):e1141.
Northeast India, the only region which currently forms a land bridge between the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, has been proposed as an important corridor for the initial peopling of East Asia. Given that the Austro-Asiatic linguistic family is considered to be the oldest and spoken by certain tribes in India, Northeast India and entire Southeast Asia, we expect that populations of this family from Northeast India should provide the signatures of genetic link between Indian and Southeast Asian populations. In order to test this hypothesis, we analyzed mtDNA and Y-Chromosome SNP and STR data of the eight groups of the Austro-Asiatic Khasi from Northeast India and the neighboring Garo and compared with that of other relevant Asian populations. The results suggest that the Austro-Asiatic Khasi tribes of Northeast India represent a genetic continuity between the populations of South and Southeast Asia, thereby advocating that northeast India could have been a major corridor for the movement of populations from India to East/Southeast Asia.
PMCID: PMC2065843  PMID: 17989774
24.  Genetic origin, admixture, and asymmetry in maternal and paternal human lineages in Cuba 
Before the arrival of Europeans to Cuba, the island was inhabited by two Native American groups, the Tainos and the Ciboneys. Most of the present archaeological, linguistic and ancient DNA evidence indicates a South American origin for these populations. In colonial times, Cuban Native American people were replaced by European settlers and slaves from Africa. It is still unknown however, to what extent their genetic pool intermingled with and was 'diluted' by the arrival of newcomers. In order to investigate the demographic processes that gave rise to the current Cuban population, we analyzed the hypervariable region I (HVS-I) and five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) coding region in 245 individuals, and 40 Y-chromosome SNPs in 132 male individuals.
The Native American contribution to present-day Cubans accounted for 33% of the maternal lineages, whereas Africa and Eurasia contributed 45% and 22% of the lineages, respectively. This Native American substrate in Cuba cannot be traced back to a single origin within the American continent, as previously suggested by ancient DNA analyses. Strikingly, no Native American lineages were found for the Y-chromosome, for which the Eurasian and African contributions were around 80% and 20%, respectively.
While the ancestral Native American substrate is still appreciable in the maternal lineages, the extensive process of population admixture in Cuba has left no trace of the paternal Native American lineages, mirroring the strong sexual bias in the admixture processes taking place during colonial times.
PMCID: PMC2492877  PMID: 18644108
25.  A major Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b Holocene era founder effect in Central and Western Europe 
The phylogenetic relationships of numerous branches within the core Y-chromosome haplogroup R-M207 support a West Asian origin of haplogroup R1b, its initial differentiation there followed by a rapid spread of one of its sub-clades carrying the M269 mutation to Europe. Here, we present phylogeographically resolved data for 2043 M269-derived Y-chromosomes from 118 West Asian and European populations assessed for the M412 SNP that largely separates the majority of Central and West European R1b lineages from those observed in Eastern Europe, the Circum-Uralic region, the Near East, the Caucasus and Pakistan. Within the M412 dichotomy, the major S116 sub-clade shows a frequency peak in the upper Danube basin and Paris area with declining frequency toward Italy, Iberia, Southern France and British Isles. Although this frequency pattern closely approximates the spread of the Linearbandkeramik (LBK), Neolithic culture, an advent leading to a number of pre-historic cultural developments during the past ≤10 thousand years, more complex pre-Neolithic scenarios remain possible for the L23(xM412) components in Southeast Europe and elsewhere.
PMCID: PMC3039512  PMID: 20736979
Y-chromosome; haplogroup R1b; human evolution; population genetics

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