Genetic Chaos

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mitochondrial DNA diversity among five tribal populations of southern India

DNA samples from 160 unrelated individuals belonging to five Dravidian tribal populations of southern India were analysed for ten mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction site polymorphisms (RSPs) and one insertion/deletion polymorphism. There is extensive sharing of mtDNA haplotypes among all the tribal populations studied, indicating that there was a small female founding population in India. The 9-bp deletion analysed was observed only in the Kadar population with a low frequency. The Asian-specific haplogroup M is found at a higher frequency in all the populations, thus supporting the hypothesis that this haplogroup arose in India and was carried to Africa from India. Haplogroup U is also found in all the populations and it is consistent with the theory that Dravidian-speaking populations were more widespread in India and that the Aryan-speakers pushed them to their present habitat.

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Genetic structure and affinities among tribal populations of southern India: a study of 24 autosomal DNA markers

We describe the genetic structure and affinities of five Dravidian-speaking tribal populations inhabiting the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu, in south India, using 24 autosomal DNA markers. Our goals were: (i). to examine what evolutionary forces have most significantly impacted south Indian tribal genetic variation, and (ii). to test whether the phenotypic similarities of some south Indian tribal groups to Africans represent a signature of close relationship to Africans or are due to convergence. All loci were polymorphic and average heterozygosities were substantial (range: 0.347-0.423). Genetic differentiation was high (Gst= 6.7%) and genetic distances were not significantly correlated with geographic distances. Genetic drift therefore probably played a significant role in shaping the patterns of genetic variation observed in southern Indian tribal populations. Otherwise, analyses of population relationships showed that Indian populations are closely related to one another, regardless of phenotypic characteristics, and do not show particular affinities to Africans. We conclude that the phenotypic similarities of some Indian groups to Africans do not reflect a close relationship between these groups, but are better explained by convergence.

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Phylogeny of Mitochondrial DNA Macrohaplogroup N in India, Based on Complete Sequencing: Implications for the Peopling of South Asia

To resolve the phylogeny of the autochthonous mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups of India and determine the relationship between the Indian and western Eurasian mtDNA pools more precisely, a diverse subset of 75 macrohaplogroup N lineages was chosen for complete sequencing from a collection of 1800 control-region sequences sampled across India. We identified five new autochthonous haplogroups (R7, R8, R30, R31, and N5) and fully characterized the autochthonous haplogroups (R5, R6, N1d, U2a, U2b, and U2c) that were previously described only by first hypervariable segment (HVS-I) sequencing and coding-region restriction-fragment–length polymorphism analysis. Our findings demonstrate that the Indian mtDNA pool, even when restricted to macrohaplogroup N, harbors at least as many deepest-branching lineages as the western Eurasian mtDNA pool. Moreover, the distribution of the earliest branches within haplogroups M, N, and R across Eurasia and Oceania provides additional evidence for a three-founder-mtDNA scenario and a single migration route out of Africa.

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In situ origin of deep rooting lineages of mitochondrial Macrohaplogroup M in India


Macrohaplogroups ‘M’ and ‘N’ have evolved almost in parallel from a founder haplogroup L3. Macrohaplogroup N in India has already been defined in previous studies and recently the macrohaplogroup M among the Indian populations has been characterized. In this study, we attempted to reconstruct and re-evaluate the phylogeny of Macrohaplogroup M, which harbors more than 60% of the Indian mtDNA lineage, and to shed light on the origin of its deep rooting haplogroups.


Using 11 whole mtDNA and 2231 partial coding sequence of Indian M lineage selected from 8670 HVS1 sequences across India, we have reconstructed the tree including Andamanese-specific lineage M31 and calculated the time depth of all the nodes. We defined one novel haplogroup M41, and revised the classification of haplogroups M3, M18, and M31.


Our result indicates that the Indian mtDNA pool consists of several deep rooting lineages of macrohaplogroup ‘M’ suggesting in-situ origin of these haplogroups in South Asia, most likely in the India. These deep rooting lineages are not language specific and spread over all the language groups in India. Moreover, our reanalysis of the Andamanese-specific lineage M31 suggests population specific two clear-cut subclades (M31a1 and M31a2). Onge and Jarwa share M31a1 branch while M31a2 clade is present in only Greate Andamanese individuals. Overall our study supported the one wave, rapid dispersal theory of modern humans along the Asian coast.

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