Genetic Chaos

Monday, November 07, 2005

Y-chromosome and mtDNA polymorphisms in Iraq, a crossroad of the early human dispersal and of post-Neolithic migrations

Analyses of mtDNA and Y-chromosome variation were performed in a sample of Iraqis, a scarcely investigated population of the "Fertile Crescent." A total of 216 mtDNAs were screened for the diagnostic RFLP markers of the main Eurasian and African haplogroups. A subset of these samples, whose HVS-I sequences were previously obtained, was also examined by high-resolution restriction analysis. The Y-chromosome variation was investigated in 139 subjects by using 17 biallelic markers and the 49a,f/Taq I system. For both uniparental systems, the large majority of the haplogroups observed in the Iraqi population are those (H, J, T,and U for the mtDNA, and J(xM172) and J-M172 for the Y chromosome) considered to have originated in the Middle East and to have later spread all over Western Eurasia. However, about 9% of the mtDNAs and 30% of the Y-chromosomes most likely represent arrivals from distant geographic regions. The different proportion of long-range genetic input observed for the mtDNA and the Y chromosome appears to indicate that events of gene flow to this area might have involved mainly males rather than females.

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Population Structure in the Mediterranean Basin: A Y Chromosome Perspective

The Mediterranean region has been characterised by a number of pre-historical and historical demographic events whose legacy on the current genetic landscape is still a matter of debate. In order to investigate the degree of population structure across the Mediterranean, we have investigated Y chromosome variation in a large dataset of Mediterranean populations, 11 of which are first described here. Our analyses identify four main clusters in the Mediterranean that can be labelled as North Africa, Arab, Central-East andWest Mediterranean. In particular, Near Eastern samples tend to separate according to the presence of Arab Y chromosome lineages, suggesting that the Arab expansion played a major role in shaping the current genetic structuring within the Fertile Crescent.

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