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1.  Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the Indian peninsula 
Background
Human genetic diversity observed in Indian subcontinent is second only to that of Africa. This implies an early settlement and demographic growth soon after the first 'Out-of-Africa' dispersal of anatomically modern humans in Late Pleistocene. In contrast to this perspective, linguistic diversity in India has been thought to derive from more recent population movements and episodes of contact. With the exception of Dravidian, which origin and relatedness to other language phyla is obscure, all the language families in India can be linked to language families spoken in different regions of Eurasia. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome evidence has supported largely local evolution of the genetic lineages of the majority of Dravidian and Indo-European speaking populations, but there is no consensus yet on the question of whether the Munda (Austro-Asiatic) speaking populations originated in India or derive from a relatively recent migration from further East.
Results
Here, we report the analysis of 35 novel complete mtDNA sequences from India which refine the structure of Indian-specific varieties of haplogroup R. Detailed analysis of haplogroup R7, coupled with a survey of ~12,000 mtDNAs from caste and tribal groups over the entire Indian subcontinent, reveals that one of its more recently derived branches (R7a1), is particularly frequent among Munda-speaking tribal groups. This branch is nested within diverse R7 lineages found among Dravidian and Indo-European speakers of India. We have inferred from this that a subset of Munda-speaking groups have acquired R7 relatively recently. Furthermore, we find that the distribution of R7a1 within the Munda-speakers is largely restricted to one of the sub-branches (Kherwari) of northern Munda languages. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that the Austro-Asiatic speakers are the primary source of the R7 variation. Statistical analyses suggest a significant correlation between genetic variation and geography, rather than between genes and languages.
Conclusion
Our high-resolution phylogeographic study, involving diverse linguistic groups in India, suggests that the high frequency of mtDNA haplogroup R7 among Munda speaking populations of India can be explained best by gene flow from linguistically different populations of Indian subcontinent. The conclusion is based on the observation that among Indo-Europeans, and particularly in Dravidians, the haplogroup is, despite its lower frequency, phylogenetically more divergent, while among the Munda speakers only one sub-clade of R7, i.e. R7a1, can be observed. It is noteworthy that though R7 is autochthonous to India, and arises from the root of hg R, its distribution and phylogeography in India is not uniform. This suggests the more ancient establishment of an autochthonous matrilineal genetic structure, and that isolation in the Pleistocene, lineage loss through drift, and endogamy of prehistoric and historic groups have greatly inhibited genetic homogenization and geographical uniformity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-227
PMCID: PMC2529308  PMID: 18680585
2.  Influence of language and ancestry on genetic structure of contiguous populations: A microsatellite based study on populations of Orissa 
BMC Genetics  2005;6:4.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-6-4
PMCID: PMC549189  PMID: 15694006
3.  Population Differentiation of Southern Indian Male Lineages Correlates with Agricultural Expansions Predating the Caste System 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50269.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050269
PMCID: PMC3508930  PMID: 23209694
4.  Genetic variation in South Indian castes: evidence from Y-chromosome, mitochondrial, and autosomal polymorphisms 
BMC Genetics  2008;9:86.
Background
Major population movements, social structure, and caste endogamy have influenced the genetic structure of Indian populations. An understanding of these influences is increasingly important as gene mapping and case-control studies are initiated in South Indian populations.
Results
We report new data on 155 individuals from four Tamil caste populations of South India and perform comparative analyses with caste populations from the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh. Genetic differentiation among Tamil castes is low (RST = 0.96% for 45 autosomal short tandem repeat (STR) markers), reflecting a largely common origin. Nonetheless, caste- and continent-specific patterns are evident. For 32 lineage-defining Y-chromosome SNPs, Tamil castes show higher affinity to Europeans than to eastern Asians, and genetic distance estimates to the Europeans are ordered by caste rank. For 32 lineage-defining mitochondrial SNPs and hypervariable sequence (HVS) 1, Tamil castes have higher affinity to eastern Asians than to Europeans. For 45 autosomal STRs, upper and middle rank castes show higher affinity to Europeans than do lower rank castes from either Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh. Local between-caste variation (Tamil Nadu RST = 0.96%, Andhra Pradesh RST = 0.77%) exceeds the estimate of variation between these geographically separated groups (RST = 0.12%). Low, but statistically significant, correlations between caste rank distance and genetic distance are demonstrated for Tamil castes using Y-chromosome, mtDNA, and autosomal data.
Conclusion
Genetic data from Y-chromosome, mtDNA, and autosomal STRs are in accord with historical accounts of northwest to southeast population movements in India. The influence of ancient and historical population movements and caste social structure can be detected and replicated in South Indian caste populations from two different geographic regions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-86
PMCID: PMC2621241  PMID: 19077280
5.  Presence of three different paternal lineages among North Indians: A study of 560 Y chromosomes 
Annals of human biology  2009;36(1):46-59.
Background
The genetic structure, affinities, and diversity of the 1 billion Indians hold important keys to numerous unanswered questions regarding the evolution of human populations and the forces shaping contemporary patterns of genetic variation. Although there have been several recent studies of South Indian caste groups, North Indian caste groups, and South Indian Muslims using Y-chromosomal markers, overall, the Indian population has still not been well studied compared to other geographical populations. In particular, no genetic study has been conducted on Shias and Sunnis from North India.
Aim
This study aims to investigate genetic variation and the gene pool in North Indians.
Subjects and methods
A total of 32 Y-chromosomal markers in 560 North Indian males collected from three higher caste groups (Brahmins, Chaturvedis and Bhargavas) and two Muslims groups (Shia and Sunni) were genotyped.
Results
Three distinct lineages were revealed based upon 13 haplogroups. The first was a Central Asian lineage harbouring haplogroups R1 and R2. The second lineage was of Middle-Eastern origin represented by haplogroups J2*, Shia-specific E1b1b1, and to some extent G* and L*. The third was the indigenous Indian Y-lineage represented by haplogroups H1*, F*, C* and O*. Haplogroup E1b1b1 was observed in Shias only.
Conclusion
The results revealed that a substantial part of today’s North Indian paternal gene pool was contributed by Central Asian lineages who are Indo-European speakers, suggesting that extant Indian caste groups are primarily the descendants of Indo-European migrants. The presence of haplogroup E in Shias, first reported in this study, suggests a genetic distinction between the two Indo Muslim sects. The findings of the present study provide insights into prehistoric and early historic patterns of migration into India and the evolution of Indian populations in recent history.
doi:10.1080/03014460802558522
PMCID: PMC2755252  PMID: 19058044
Paternal lineages; Y-chromosomal markers; North Indians; migration
6.  Molecular insight into the genesis of ranked caste populations of western India based upon polymorphisms across non-recombinant and recombinant regions in genome 
Genome Biology  2005;6(8):P10.
To trace admixture and genesis of caste populations of western India, polymorphisms were examined across non-recombining 20 Y-SNPs, 20 Y-STRs, 18 mtDNA diagnostic sites, HVS-1 plus HVS-2 regions; and recombining 15 highly polymorphic autosomal STRs in four predominant caste populations- upper-ranking Desasth-brahmin and Chitpavan-brahmin; a middle-ranking Kshtriya Maratha; and a lower-rank peasant Dhangar.
Background
Large-scale trade and cultural contacts between coastal populations of western India and Western-Eurasians paved for extensive immigration and genesis of wide spectrum of admixed gene pool. To trace admixture and genesis of caste populations of western India, we have examined polymorphisms across non-recombining 20 Y-SNPs, 20 Y-STRs, 18 mtDNA diagnostic sites, HVS-1 plus HVS-2 regions; and recombining 15 highly polymorphic autosomal STRs in four predominant caste populations- upper-ranking Desasth-brahmin and Chitpavan-brahmin; a middle-ranking Kshtriya Maratha; and a lower-rank peasant Dhangar.
Results
The generated genomic data was compared with putative parental populations- Central Asians, West Asians and Europeans using AMOVA, PC plot, and admixture estimates. Overall, disparate uniparental ancestries, and l.1% GST value for biparental markers among four studied caste populations linked well with their exchequer demographic histories. Marathi-speaking ancient Desasth-brahmin shows substantial admixture from Central Asian males but Paleolithic maternal component support their Scytho-Dravidian origin. Chitpavanbrahmin demonstrates younger maternal component and substantial paternal gene flow from West Asia, thus giving credence to their recent Irano-Scythian ancestry from Mediterranean or Turkey, which correlated well with European-looking features of this caste. This also explains their untraceable ethno-history before 1000 years, brahminization event and later amalgamation by Maratha. The widespread Palaeolithic mtDNA haplogroups in Maratha and Dhangar highlight their shared Proto-Asian ancestries. Maratha males harboured Anatolianderived J2 lineage corroborating the blending of farming communities. Dhangar heterogeneity is ascribable to predominantly South-Asian males and West-Eurasian females.
Conclusions
The genomic data-sets of this study provide ample genomic evidences of diverse origins of four ranked castes and synchronization of caste stratification with asymmetrical gene flows from Indo-European migration during Upper Paleolithic, Neolithic, and later dates. However, subsequent gene flows among these castes living in geographical proximity, have diminished significant genetic differentiation as indicated by AMOVA and structure.
doi:10.1186/gb-2005-6-8-p10
PMCID: PMC4071276
7.  Haemoglobin S and βThal: Their Distribution in Maharashtra, India 
It has been more than six decades since the first report of sickle cell anaemia in Indian subcontinent. Since then the researchers have been reported various haemoglobin varients prevalent in India, they are HbS, HbβT, HbE and HbD. Earlier studies were confined to tribal and scheduled castes populations as if sickle haemoglobin was restricted to these two groups only. Since a decade or so, few studies on haemoglobinopathies from other Indian populations are available. Examination of premarital age group of 5172 Indian subjects (2762 males and 2410 females) from eastern Maharashtra of India showed high incidences of HbS (0-33 per cent) and HbβT (0-10 per cent) in different ethnic groups. In present study cumulative gene frequency for HbS and HbβT was found to be of 6.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. In present study sickle cell gene has been found in general categories of Indian populations besides scheduled castes and tribal populations. In Scheduled tribes HbS ranges from 0-24 per cent, in Scheduled castes and Nomadic tribal groups, HbS ranges from 0-13 per cent, in Other Backward caste categories it varies from 0-20 per cent while in higher caste populations it ranges from 0-5 per cent. The incidences of HbS are much higher among tribal groups than that found in other caste populations. The incidences of homozygous individuals are very few in HbS and HbβT. The hitherto regional and populations specific HbβT haemoglobin variant in Sindhi and Bengali communities is gradually spreading in other populations of Maharashtra as evident from the present study. Lesser value of MCV, MCH and MCHC in homozygous HbβT is due to impairments of synthesis β-globin chain. The subject with the presence of β-thalassaemia is accompanied by raised level of HbA2. Unusual higher values of RBC and WBC suggest the high concentration of hypochromic microcytosis in anemia. The means of MCV MCH and MCHC in HbβT are much lower than the normal ranges compared to HbS.
PMCID: PMC3708271  PMID: 23847457
haemoglobinopathies; sickle cell anemia; thalassaemia; eastern maharashtra; India
8.  Genetic Affinities of the Central Indian Tribal Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32546.
Background
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.
Conclusions/Significance
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032546
PMCID: PMC3290590  PMID: 22393414
9.  The Phylogeography of Y-Chromosome Haplogroup H1a1a-M82 Reveals the Likely Indian Origin of the European Romani Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48477.
Linguistic and genetic studies on Roma populations inhabited in Europe have unequivocally traced these populations to the Indian subcontinent. However, the exact parental population group and time of the out-of-India dispersal have remained disputed. In the absence of archaeological records and with only scanty historical documentation of the Roma, comparative linguistic studies were the first to identify their Indian origin. Recently, molecular studies on the basis of disease-causing mutations and haploid DNA markers (i.e. mtDNA and Y-chromosome) supported the linguistic view. The presence of Indian-specific Y-chromosome haplogroup H1a1a-M82 and mtDNA haplogroups M5a1, M18 and M35b among Roma has corroborated that their South Asian origins and later admixture with Near Eastern and European populations. However, previous studies have left unanswered questions about the exact parental population groups in South Asia. Here we present a detailed phylogeographical study of Y-chromosomal haplogroup H1a1a-M82 in a data set of more than 10,000 global samples to discern a more precise ancestral source of European Romani populations. The phylogeographical patterns and diversity estimates indicate an early origin of this haplogroup in the Indian subcontinent and its further expansion to other regions. Tellingly, the short tandem repeat (STR) based network of H1a1a-M82 lineages displayed the closest connection of Romani haplotypes with the traditional scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population groups of northwestern India.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048477
PMCID: PMC3509117  PMID: 23209554
10.  Genetic affinities between endogamous and inbreeding populations of Uttar Pradesh 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:12.
Background
India has experienced several waves of migration since the Middle Paleolithic. It is believed that the initial demic movement into India was from Africa along the southern coastal route, approximately 60,000–85,000 years before present (ybp). It has also been reported that there were two other major colonization which included eastward diffusion of Neolithic farmers (Elamo Dravidians) from Middle East sometime between 10,000 and 7,000 ybp and a southern dispersal of Indo Europeans from Central Asia 3,000 ybp. Mongol entry during the thirteenth century A.D. as well as some possible minor incursions from South China 50,000 to 60,000 ybp may have also contributed to cultural, linguistic and genetic diversity in India. Therefore, the genetic affinity and relationship of Indians with other world populations and also within India are often contested. In the present study, we have attempted to offer a fresh and immaculate interpretation on the genetic relationships of different North Indian populations with other Indian and world populations.
Results
We have first genotyped 20 tetra-nucleotide STR markers among 1800 north Indian samples of nine endogamous populations belonging to three different socio-cultural strata. Genetic distances (Nei's DA and Reynold's Fst) were calculated among the nine studied populations, Caucasians and East Asians. This analysis was based upon the allelic profile of 20 STR markers to assess the genetic similarity and differences of the north Indian populations. North Indians showed a stronger genetic relationship with the Europeans (DA 0.0341 and Fst 0.0119) as compared to the Asians (DA 0.1694 and Fst – 0.0718). The upper caste Brahmins and Muslims were closest to Caucasians while middle caste populations were closer to Asians. Finally, three phylogenetic assessments based on two different NJ and ML phylogenetic methods and PC plot analysis were carried out using the same panel of 20 STR markers and 20 geo-ethnic populations. The three phylogenetic assessments revealed that north Indians are clustering with Caucasians.
Conclusion
The genetic affinities of Indians and that of different caste groups towards Caucasians or East Asians is distributed in a cline where geographically north Indians and both upper caste and Muslim populations are genetically closer to the Caucasians.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-8-12
PMCID: PMC1855350  PMID: 17417972
11.  The Grandest Genetic Experiment Ever Performed on Man? – A Y-Chromosomal Perspective on Genetic Variation in India 
We have analysed Y-chromosomal data from Indian caste, Indian tribal and East Asian populations in order to investigate the impact of the caste system on male genetic variation. We find that variation within populations is lower in India than in East Asia, while variation between populations is overall higher. This observation can be explained by greater subdivision within the Indian population, leading to more genetic drift. However, the effect is most marked in the tribal populations, and the level of variation between caste populations is similar to the level between Chinese populations. The caste system has therefore had a detectable impact on Y-chromosomal variation, but this has been less strong than the influence of the tribal system, perhaps because of larger population sizes in the castes, more gene flow or a shorter period of time.
PMCID: PMC2987567  PMID: 21103011
Y chromosome; genetic variation; Indian caste system; endogamy; population substructure
12.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090414
PMCID: PMC3948632  PMID: 24614885
13.  Updating Phylogeny of Mitochondrial DNA Macrohaplogroup M in India: Dispersal of Modern Human in South Asian Corridor 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7447.
To construct maternal phylogeny and prehistoric dispersals of modern human being in the Indian sub continent, a diverse subset of 641 complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes belonging to macrohaplogroup M was chosen from a total collection of 2,783 control-region sequences, sampled from 26 selected tribal populations of India. On the basis of complete mtDNA sequencing, we identified 12 new haplogroups - M53 to M64; redefined/ascertained and characterized haplogroups M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M8′C′Z, M9, M10, M11, M12-G, D, M18, M30, M33, M35, M37, M38, M39, M40, M41, M43, M45 and M49, which were previously described by control and/or coding-region polymorphisms. Our results indicate that the mtDNA lineages reported in the present study (except East Asian lineages M8′C′Z, M9, M10, M11, M12-G, D ) are restricted to Indian region.The deep rooted lineages of macrohaplogroup ‘M’ suggest in-situ origin of these haplogroups in India. Most of these deep rooting lineages are represented by multiple ethnic/linguist groups of India. Hierarchical analysis of molecular variation (AMOVA) shows substantial subdivisions among the tribes of India (Fst = 0.16164). The current Indian mtDNA gene pool was shaped by the initial settlers and was galvanized by minor events of gene flow from the east and west to the restricted zones. Northeast Indian mtDNA pool harbors region specific lineages, other Indian lineages and East Asian lineages. We also suggest the establishment of an East Asian gene in North East India through admixture rather than replacement.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007447
PMCID: PMC2757894  PMID: 19823670
14.  Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in South and Southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans 
BMC Genetics  2004;5:26.
Background
Recent advances in the understanding of the maternal and paternal heritage of south and southwest Asian populations have highlighted their role in the colonization of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans. Further understanding requires a deeper insight into the topology of the branches of the Indian mtDNA phylogenetic tree, which should be contextualized within the phylogeography of the neighboring regional mtDNA variation. Accordingly, we have analyzed mtDNA control and coding region variation in 796 Indian (including both tribal and caste populations from different parts of India) and 436 Iranian mtDNAs. The results were integrated and analyzed together with published data from South, Southeast Asia and West Eurasia.
Results
Four new Indian-specific haplogroup M sub-clades were defined. These, in combination with two previously described haplogroups, encompass approximately one third of the haplogroup M mtDNAs in India. Their phylogeography and spread among different linguistic phyla and social strata was investigated in detail. Furthermore, the analysis of the Iranian mtDNA pool revealed patterns of limited reciprocal gene flow between Iran and the Indian sub-continent and allowed the identification of different assemblies of shared mtDNA sub-clades.
Conclusions
Since the initial peopling of South and West Asia by anatomically modern humans, when this region may well have provided the initial settlers who colonized much of the rest of Eurasia, the gene flow in and out of India of the maternally transmitted mtDNA has been surprisingly limited. Specifically, our analysis of the mtDNA haplogroups, which are shared between Indian and Iranian populations and exhibit coalescence ages corresponding to around the early Upper Paleolithic, indicates that they are present in India largely as Indian-specific sub-lineages. In contrast, other ancient Indian-specific variants of M and R are very rare outside the sub-continent.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-26
PMCID: PMC516768  PMID: 15339343
15.  Haptoglobin polymorphism among the tribal groups of southern Gujarat 
Indian Journal of Human Genetics  2011;17(3):169-174.
BACKGROUND:
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.
AIM:
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).
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS:
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.
doi:10.4103/0971-6866.92096
PMCID: PMC3276985  PMID: 22345988
AMOVA; haptoglobin; heterozygosity; hypohaptoglobinaemia; sickle cell anemia; tribes.
16.  Distribution of CC-chemokine receptor-5-∆32 allele among the tribal and caste population of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state 
BACKGROUND:
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.
CONCLUSION:
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.
doi:10.4103/0971-6866.112894
PMCID: PMC3722632  PMID: 23901195
Allele frequency; CC-chemokine receptor-5-∆32; India; genetic polymorphism; tribes; Vidarbha
17.  Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome diversity of the Tharus (Nepal): a reservoir of genetic variation 
Background
Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent represent an area considered as a source and a reservoir for human genetic diversity, with many markers taking root here, most of which are the ancestral state of eastern and western haplogroups, while others are local. Between these two regions, Terai (Nepal) is a pivotal passageway allowing, in different times, multiple population interactions, although because of its highly malarial environment, it was scarcely inhabited until a few decades ago, when malaria was eradicated. One of the oldest and the largest indigenous people of Terai is represented by the malaria resistant Tharus, whose gene pool could still retain traces of ancient complex interactions. Until now, however, investigations on their genetic structure have been scarce mainly identifying East Asian signatures.
Results
High-resolution analyses of mitochondrial-DNA (including 34 complete sequences) and Y-chromosome (67 SNPs and 12 STRs) variations carried out in 173 Tharus (two groups from Central and one from Eastern Terai), and 104 Indians (Hindus from Terai and New Delhi and tribals from Andhra Pradesh) allowed the identification of three principal components: East Asian, West Eurasian and Indian, the last including both local and inter-regional sub-components, at least for the Y chromosome.
Conclusion
Although remarkable quantitative and qualitative differences appear among the various population groups and also between sexes within the same group, many mitochondrial-DNA and Y-chromosome lineages are shared or derived from ancient Indian haplogroups, thus revealing a deep shared ancestry between Tharus and Indians. Interestingly, the local Y-chromosome Indian component observed in the Andhra-Pradesh tribals is present in all Tharu groups, whereas the inter-regional component strongly prevails in the two Hindu samples and other Nepalese populations.
The complete sequencing of mtDNAs from unresolved haplogroups also provided informative markers that greatly improved the mtDNA phylogeny and allowed the identification of ancient relationships between Tharus and Malaysia, the Andaman Islands and Japan as well as between India and North and East Africa. Overall, this study gives a paradigmatic example of the importance of genetic isolates in revealing variants not easily detectable in the general population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-154
PMCID: PMC2720951  PMID: 19573232
18.  The earliest settlers' antiquity and evolutionary history of Indian populations: evidence from M2 mtDNA lineage 
Background
The "out of Africa" model postulating single "southern route" dispersal posits arrival of "Anatomically Modern Human" to Indian subcontinent around 66–70 thousand years before present (kyBP). However the contributions and legacy of these earliest settlers in contemporary Indian populations, owing to the complex past population dynamics and later migrations has been an issue of controversy. The high frequency of mitochondrial lineage "M2" consistent with its greater age and distribution suggests that it may represent the phylogenetic signature of earliest settlers. Accordingly, we attempted to re-evaluate the impact and contribution of earliest settlers in shaping the genetic diversity and structure of contemporary Indian populations; using our newly sequenced 72 and 4 published complete mitochondrial genomes of this lineage.
Results
The M2 lineage, harbouring two deep rooting subclades M2a and M2b encompasses approximately one tenth of the mtDNA pool of studied tribes. The phylogeographic spread and diversity indices of M2 and its subclades among the tribes of different geographic regions and linguistic phyla were investigated in detail. Further the reconstructed demographic history of M2 lineage as a surrogate of earliest settlers' component revealed that the demographic events with pronounced regional variations had played pivotal role in shaping the complex net of populations phylogenetic relationship in Indian subcontinent.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that tribes of southern and eastern region along with Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic speakers of central India are the modern representatives of earliest settlers of subcontinent. The Last Glacial Maximum aridity and post LGM population growth mechanised some sort of homogeneity and redistribution of earliest settlers' component in India. The demic diffusion of agriculture and associated technologies around 3 kyBP, which might have marginalized hunter-gatherer, is coincidental with the decline of earliest settlers' population during this period.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-230
PMCID: PMC2528015  PMID: 18691441
19.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015988
PMCID: PMC3018485  PMID: 21264345
20.  Tracking the genetic imprints of lost Jewish tribes among the gene pool of Kuki-Chin-Mizo population of India 
Genome Biology  2004;6(1):P1.
DNA markers from the Kuki-Chin-Mizo population of Mizoram, India, who claim their descent from the ten lost tribes of Israel that were exiled by the Assyrians, show no evidence of Cohanim origin but some genetic relatedness to Near Eastern lineages.
Background
The Kuki-Chin-Mizo population comprising traditionally endogamous tribal groups residing in the state of Mizoram, India claim their descent from the ten lost tribes of Israel that were exiled by the Assyrians. To ascertain their oral history, we analysed DNA markers comprising 15 autosomal microsatellite markers, 5 biallelic and 20 microsatellite markers on Y-chromosome and the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA sequence variations on 414 individuals belonging to 5 tribal communities from Mizoram (Hmar, Kuki, Mara, Lai and Lusei). The genetic profiles obtained were compared either with populations sharing Jewish ancestry or with local populations along the probable route of migration of the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes.
Results
Y-STR analyses showed absence of the Cohen Modal Haplotype, the genetic signature of Cohanim origin. Y-chromosomal biallelic marker analyses revealed the presence of East and Southeast Asian-specific lineages and absence of haplogroup J predominant among Jewish populations. The mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses however revealed traces of genetic relatedness between the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes and Near Eastern lineages. Autosomal analyses showed moderate degree of genetic differentiation among the different Mizoram tribes.
Conclusions
Migration of the lost tribes through China resulting in subsequent genetic admixture over a long period of time has probably diluted the extant gene pool of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo population. Although their paternal lineages do not exhibit any trace of Jewish ancestry, incidence of maternal Near Eastern lineages among the Mizoram tribals suggests their claim to Jewish ancestry cannot be excluded.
doi:10.1186/gb-2004-6-1-p1
PMCID: PMC4071260
21.  Characterizing the genetic differences between two distinct migrant groups from Indo-European and Dravidian speaking populations in India 
BMC Genetics  2014;15:86.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-15-86
PMCID: PMC4120727  PMID: 25053360
Positive selection; Long haplotype; Population diversity
22.  Morphological and Dimensional Characteristics of Dental Arch among Tribal and Non-tribal Population of Central India: A Comparative Study 
Background:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusion:
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.
PMCID: PMC4295450  PMID: 25628479
Arch depth; bhil tribe; dental arch
23.  Reconstructing Indian Population History 
Nature  2009;461(7263):489-494.
India has been underrepresented in genome-wide surveys of human variation. We analyze 25 diverse groups to provide strong evidence for two ancient populations, genetically divergent, that are ancestral to most Indians today. One, the “Ancestral North Indians” (ANI), is genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans, while the other, the “Ancestral South Indians” (ASI), is as distinct from ANI and East Asians as they are from each other. By introducing methods that can estimate ancestry without accurate ancestral populations, we show that ANI ancestry ranges from 39-71% in India, and is higher in traditionally upper caste and Indo-European speakers. Groups with only ASI ancestry may no longer exist in mainland India. However, the Andamanese are an ASI-related group without ANI ancestry, showing that the peopling of the islands must have occurred before ANI-ASI gene flow on the mainland. Allele frequency differences between groups in India are larger than in Europe, reflecting strong founder effects whose signatures have been maintained for thousands of years due to endogamy. We therefore predict that there will be an excess of recessive diseases in India, different in each group, which should be possible to screen and map genetically.
doi:10.1038/nature08365
PMCID: PMC2842210  PMID: 19779445
24.  Genetic diversity in India and the inference of Eurasian population expansion 
Genome Biology  2010;11(11):R113.
Background
Genetic studies of populations from the Indian subcontinent are of great interest because of India's large population size, complex demographic history, and unique social structure. Despite recent large-scale efforts in discovering human genetic variation, India's vast reservoir of genetic diversity remains largely unexplored.
Results
To analyze an unbiased sample of genetic diversity in India and to investigate human migration history in Eurasia, we resequenced one 100-kb ENCODE region in 92 samples collected from three castes and one tribal group from the state of Andhra Pradesh in south India. Analyses of the four Indian populations, along with eight HapMap populations (692 samples), showed that 30% of all SNPs in the south Indian populations are not seen in HapMap populations. Several Indian populations, such as the Yadava, Mala/Madiga, and Irula, have nucleotide diversity levels as high as those of HapMap African populations. Using unbiased allele-frequency spectra, we investigated the expansion of human populations into Eurasia. The divergence time estimates among the major population groups suggest that Eurasian populations in this study diverged from Africans during the same time frame (approximately 90 to 110 thousand years ago). The divergence among different Eurasian populations occurred more than 40,000 years after their divergence with Africans.
Conclusions
Our results show that Indian populations harbor large amounts of genetic variation that have not been surveyed adequately by public SNP discovery efforts. Our data also support a delayed expansion hypothesis in which an ancestral Eurasian founding population remained isolated long after the out-of-Africa diaspora, before expanding throughout Eurasia.
doi:10.1186/gb-2010-11-11-r113
PMCID: PMC3156952  PMID: 21106085
25.  Y-chromosomal insights into the genetic impact of the caste system in India 
Human genetics  2006;121(1):137-144.
The caste system has persisted in Indian Hindu society for around 3,500 years. Like the Y chromosome, caste is defined at birth, and males cannot change their caste. In order to investigate the genetic consequences of this system, we have analysed male-lineage variation in a sample of 227 Indian men of known caste, 141 from the Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh and 86 from the rest of India. We typed 131 Y-chromosomal binary markers and 16 microsatellites. We find striking evidence for male substructure: in particular, Brahmins and Kshatriyas (but not other castes) from Jaunpur each show low diversity and the predominance of a single distinct cluster of haplotypes. These findings confirm the genetic isolation and drift within the Jaunpur upper castes, which are likely to result from founder effects and social factors. In the other castes, there may be either larger effective population sizes, or less strict isolation, or both.
doi:10.1007/s00439-006-0282-2
PMCID: PMC2590678  PMID: 17075717
Y chromosome; haplotype; human population substructure; Indian caste system

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