July 26, 2010

Malana (Himachal Pradesh) autosomal and Y-chromosome study

It would be risky to draw too many conclusions from this: all I can say is that a fairly isolated sample from north India which turns out to be J2- and R1a-dominated is not inconsistent with my own past speculations.

UPDATE

From the paper:
Malana, a remote plateau in the upper reaches (Altitude 2,633 meters) of Parvati valley in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, India is an abode to mysterious group of people commonly known as Malanis. Rosser (1955) describes Malana as a hermit village with an aspect of cohesiveness and intense group loyalty that sustains a virulent and suspicious community attitude towards outsiders. Formidable mountain barriers namely Chandrakhani (3,677m); Deo-Tibba (3,732 m) and Rashol Jot (3,238 m) on three sides coupled with the curious efforts of the people to retain their cultural and social uniqueness have ensured virtual biological isolation of the village from the surrounding societies.

and:
We predicted Y chromosome haplogroups from Y-STR data by the use of the Haplogroup Predictor program. The observed haplotypes, predicted haplogroups of the Malana population and the Bayesian probability are reported in Table 4. We found only four haplogroups in the Malana population. Haplogroup J2a1h accounted for 60% of all Y chromosomes. Other haplogroups were R1a (~27%), H (10%) and L (3%). The Bayesian probability was greater than 62% in all the samples.
Hum Biol. 2010 Apr;82(2):123-41.

The Most Ancient Democracy in the World is a Genetic Isolate: An Autosomal and Y-Chromosome Study of the Hermit Village of Malana (Himachal Pradesh, India).

Giroti R, Talwar I.

Abstract

Malana, a small village in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, India, has historically been considered a hermit village. Today it has a census size of 1,101 individuals. Geographic, linguistic, and population barriers have contributed to its seclusion. Little is known about the extent to which the population genetically differentiated during the years of isolation. To address this issue, we genotyped 48 Malani individuals at 15 highly polymorphic autosomal STR loci. We found that Malanis have lost some genetic variability compared with the present-day cosmopolitan caste populations and highly mobile pastoral cultures of India. But there is no evidence that they have gone through a severe bottleneck; the average population still shows a mean of 6.86 alleles per locus compared to a mean of 7.80-8.93 for nonisolated populations. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) differentiates Malanis from the rest of the comparison populations. The population structure revealed by multidimensional scaling analysis of standard genetic distances lends support to the AMOVA. Our results are consistent with the social heterogeneity of the Malanis. We also analyzed 17 Y-chromosome STRs in 30 individuals to assess the paternal gene pool. The Malanis are characterized by a generally low Y-chromosome haplotype diversity. A network analysis indicates that two closely related haplotypes account for a large proportion of Malani Y chromosomes. We predicted Y-chromosome haplogroups and found that J2 and R1a were the most prevalent. Genetic drift and limited gene flow leading to reduced genetic diversity were important in determining the present genetic structure of the highly endogamous Malana village.

Link

16 comments:

  1. The village has a colorful tradition, with alternative folk histories suggesting either the Aryan's or a displaced contingent of Alexander the Great's Army as antecedents. (FWIW, the Aryan story seems more consistent with the village's cultural milieu such as its focus on purity and its homogenous genetic makeup.)

    It was also apparently once a source of some of the world's best hashish.

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  2. with alternative folk histories suggesting either the Aryan's or a displaced contingent of Alexander the Great's Army as antecedents. (FWIW, the Aryan story seems more consistent with the village's cultural milieu such as its focus on purity and its homogenous genetic makeup.)

    Or, as Malana villagers speak a Tibeto-Burman language, they may be descended from the original Sino-Tibetan language family speakers, who may have been completely Caucasoid or a Caucasoid-Subcontinental mix instead of Mongoloid.

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  3. Another important detail to note from the Wikipedia article: Malana is surrounded by Indo-Aryan speaking populations.

    So maybe the whole region was Tibeto-Burman-speaking before the imposition of the Indo-Aryan languages to the locals and only Malana has managed to preserve its Tibeto-Burman tongue because of its isolation. I tend to think that assuming that all or almost all of India, Pakistan and even Bangladesh and Nepal was Dravidian-speaking before the arrival of Indo-Aryan languages (some also consider most or all of pre-IE Iran and Afghanistan as Dravidian-speaking, counting, e.g., Elam language as Dravidian) is an over-simplification at best. So maybe Sino-Tibetan (including its Tibeto-Burman branch) languages were prevalent in the northern parts of the Subcontinent and even in much of Central Asia (maybe even in some parts of West Asia and East Europe) before the arrival of Indo-European (mainly Indo-Iranian) languages to those areas and were spoken by non-Mongoloid (full Caucasoid and Caucasoid-Subcontinental) populations in those regions. Some scholars see familial relationship between Sino-Tibatan languages and some languages of the Caucasus, so my speculations may be more plausible than they look at first sight.

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  4. These traditions are a little like those of the Kalash - if you look back well into the past there are no such traditions.
    In the accounts of JB Lyall (1865-72), there is no mention of any Greek connection, they are described as Kanets (IE-TB mix).

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  5. The Tibeto-Burmese classification is questionable. While there may be that influence, there appears to be evidence that there is also a Sanskrit influence in their language.

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  6. The Y-chromosome composition of this population makes it unlikely that they originally spoke Tibeto-Burman.

    As for any "Greek origins", these are fairly unlikely, as only 2 haplogroups common in Europe (J2 and R1a) have been found and these are exactly the ones that are also found in other populations of the region.

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  7. The Y-chromosome composition of this population makes it unlikely that they originally spoke Tibeto-Burman.

    We don't know the genetic composition of the original Tibeto-Burman or Sino-Tibetan speakers. So the issue is open to speculation and that is what I am doing.

    The Tibeto-Burmese classification is questionable. While there may be that influence, there appears to be evidence that there is also a Sanskrit influence in their language.

    It is very normal Malana language to have some Sanskrit influence as Malana villagers are Hindus by religion and surrounded by Indo-Aryan-speaking Hindus. But that doesn't make their language Indo-Aryan. By your criteria English would have to be classified as a Latin language. Every online source I have looked classifies Malana language as a Tibeto-Burman language.

    BTW, I want to make a very minor and insignificant correction to my previous post:

    So maybe the whole region was Tibeto-Burman-speaking before the imposition of the Indo-Aryan languages to the locals

    Here it would be better if I used "spread" instead of "imposition" as Indo-Aryan languages might have spread in the region gradually as a natural consequence of converting to Hinduism. So it might actually have been Hinduism which was imposed and not Indo-Aryan languages. But Malana villagers would preserve their pre-IE language despite their conversion to Hinduism due to their long and persistent isolation (like the fairly isolated Islamized but non-Turkified peoples of the mountainous regions of the Caucasus and environs).

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  8. "We don't know the genetic composition of the original Tibeto-Burman or Sino-Tibetan speakers. So the issue is open to speculation and that is what I am doing".

    We certainly don't know the 'genetic composition of the original Tibeto-Burman or Sino-Tibetan speakers' but we do know that the language family is reaches SE Asia as well as Northeast India. In those regions Y-haps J2 and R1a are far from the most common haplogroups. In fact I've read that O3 is the Y-hap most likely connected to the Tibeto-Burman expansion.

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  9. In fact I've read that O3 is the Y-hap most likely connected to the Tibeto-Burman expansion.

    The expansion of O3 may have predated the expansion of Tibeto-Burman languages and also Sino-Tibetan family as a whole.

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  10. The language in many instances comes from the female side cf. Newar - on the male side mainly carrying north Indian Y, but on the female side Tibeto-Burman - they speak a TB language which almost feels northern Indian due to the influx of vocabulary.

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  11. "The expansion of O3 may have predated the expansion of Tibeto-Burman languages and also Sino-Tibetan family as a whole".

    Perhaps so, but there's no indication that the Tibeto-Burman languages arrived in SE Asia with Y-haps J or G. I agree with AP that languages are often closely associated with mtDNA rather than Y-haps. But often language seems not closely attached to either. The language a groups speaks is a product of a complicated set of circumstances.

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  12. But often language seems not closely attached to either.

    That was one of the things upon which I based my speculation.

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  13. Dienekes,

    Truly brilliant work!

    I would like like to ask you a few questions regarding Malana and your take on the connection with the Brokpa people of Ladakh?

    Your email link is not working so could you please provide me with your preferred contact? My email is:

    tpds108@gmail.com

    Thanking you in advance.

    Sincerely,

    Tashi D.S

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  14. My e-mail can be found at the bottom of this page and it works.

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  15. "That was one of the things upon which I based my speculation".

    I've put some of my thought on East Asian language movements, including Tbeto-Burman, at Dienekes' Korean post:

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2010/07/koreans-in-genomic-context-jung-et-al.html

    "So maybe Sino-Tibetan (including its Tibeto-Burman branch) languages were prevalent in the northern parts of the Subcontinent and even in much of Central Asia"

    You will see that I agree. But, I strongly suspect that all the languages I mention there were spoken by people of East Asian appearance, not 'Caucasoid'. So it is very interesting that the 'Malana villagers speak a Tibeto-Burman language' (or not, according to others' comments).

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  16. I would like like to ask you a few questions regarding Malana and your take on the connection with the Brokpa people of Ladakh?

    I can help you in this regard.

    Regarding Malana people, they belong to Rajput Caste , A major caste in North India

    I have visited this village and sampled them for my Y chromosomal studies. Also the Brokpa of Ladakh

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