February 21, 2011

Y chromosome variation in Iranian religious groups

I am somewhat skeptical of the Y-chromosome results included in this paper:

For one thing, the extreme paucity of haplogroup J contradicts previous reports on the Iranian population and seems hardly consistent with the geographical position of Iran. On the other hand, the excess of Y* chromosomes (the two best candidates for what they represent are G and H) is also difficult to understand. 0/51 J in Shiraz Muslims and 1/37 in Zoroastrians seems difficult to believe. The low frequency of J in Assyrians (11%) also seems to contradict the results of the public information on that population; the admin of the Aramaic DNA project estimates a 33% occurrence of that haplogroup for Assyrians based on 23andMe, FTDNA, and SMGF samples, and this seems easier to reconcile than the 11% value.

The authors also cite Yonan et al. (2009), which, as far as I can tell, does not appear to be published anywhere (let me know if it is) except as an abstract in the linked site.

Ann Hum Biol. 2011 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Y chromosome diversity among the Iranian religious groups: A reservoir of genetic variation.

Lashgary Z, Khodadadi A, Singh Y, Houshmand SM, Mahjoubi F, Sharma P, Singh S, Seyedin M, Srivastava A, Ataee M, Mohammadi ZS, Rezaei N, Bamezai RN, Sanati MH.


Background: Iran is ethnically, linguistically and religiously diverse. However, little is known about the population genetics of Iranian religious communities. Aim: This study was performed in order to define the different paternal components of the Iranian gene pool. Subjects and methods: Fourteen Y chromosome bi-allelic markers were analysed in 130 male subjects from Assyrian, Armenian and Zoroastrian groups in comparison with 208 male subjects from three Iranian Muslim groups. Results: Among the three Iranian Muslim groups, the Uromian people possessed a particularly close genetic relationship to the Armenian, whereas the Zoroastrian group was different from the Uromian, but had a close genetic relationship to the two other Muslim groups (Kermanian and Shirazian). The genetic results indicate a relationship between Armenian and Assyrian groups in Iran and a clear distinction of the former from the Zoroastrian group. However, Assyrians had elevated frequency (40%) of R*(xR1a) and low frequency (11%) of J. Conclusion: The results of this study may suggest that the Assyrian population either experienced Eurasian gene flow (possibly from Armenia) or that enforced relocations and expulsion of conquered people with different origin led to the integration of descendants with R haplogroup. This could also be due to genetic drift due to small population size and endogamy resulting from religious barriers.



dok101 said...

Thank you for providing the link. I have not had an opportunity to read the article, but, in the meantime, these are the results of Assyrians tested at 23andMe, FTDNA, and SMGF (n=77). Note that these frequencies represent Assyrians from the diaspora in general, and not exclusively Iran:

R1b 25%
J1 17%
J2 16%
T 13%
G 10%
E1b 6%
R1a 4%
R2a 4%
F3 1%
I 1%
L2 1%
Q1b 1%

Paul Givargidze
Assyrian and Aramaic Project Admin

Anonymous said...

How do these publications that exam so few binary markers even get published? It's very difficult to really get any information from such low resolution.

AdygheChabadi said...

Hi, Dienekes!

I also dislike these imprecise haplogroup designations...some of them I can deal with, but the ones like Y*(xDE,I,J,K) and DE(xE1b1a), ugh, they make me ill. I think the K*(xL1,M1,N1,O,P) is more than likely T/K2-M70, most of it anyway.

I agree with the above posters...they should not fund the study if they will not test properly for all informative makers, especially, those within (because this is the Mid East, especially, Iran) Y-haplogroups E, F (not so much H), G, I, J, K (including L and T, don't so much care for others being expanded, MNOS), and P (including all of R).

As for Yonan et al. 2009...here you are: http://www.thegeneticatlas.com/study_yonan2009.htm

Dienekes said...

That's the link I provided, I mean the actual study.

dok101 said...

"The emergence of Y-chromosome haplogroup J1e among Arabic-speaking populations"

Chiaroni et al.

Supplementary Table 1

Assyrians in Iran (n=31)
J1* and J1c3 = 5

J1 frequency = ~16%

Only the data for Assyrian men testing as J1 have been published, to the best of my knowledge.


Please note, the vernacular of the Assyrians living in Iran remains Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. And the liturgical language is in the Aramaic dialect of Syriac.

AWood said...

Wow, Y* is heavily represented among all groups. Is this L and T branches exclusively?

dok101 said...

One correction to what I stated. I should have written "Assyrians FROM Iran," not "Assyrians IN Iran," as these were samples taken from men living in the diaspora.

AdygheChabadi said...


Sorry, Dienekes.

No, I have not seen this study published in any journal as of yet.

Anonymous said...

I think the abstract that's being cited as Yonan et al. is really just the results of one of the Family Tree DNA studies and is not associated with any publication. Mary Yonan is listed as the group administrator for the Assyrian project, and thus may not be interested in publishing her results in a journal.

dok101 said...

Mary Yonan is not the Genetic Atlas "Yonan." I am Mary's co-admin at the Assyrian Project, Paul Givargidze.

P said...

Both the studies in FTDNA & The Genetic Atlas, Show a high % of R1b.

The study must clarify the type of samples, for example if a Georgian males marries an Assyrian lady their children will have Georgian Y-DNA, but they could be considered Assyrian by their mom!