AJPA DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21581
Genetic structure of Tunisian ethnic groups revealed by paternal lineages
Karima Fadhlaoui-Zid et al.
Tunisia has experienced a variety of human migrations that have modeled the myriad cultural groups inhabiting the area. Both Arabic and Berber-speaking populations live in Tunisia. Berbers are commonly considered as in situ descendants of peoples who settled roughly in Palaeolithic times, and posterior demographic events such as the arrival of the Neolithic, the Arab migrations, and the expulsion of the “Moors” from Spain, had a strong cultural influence. Nonetheless, the genetic structure and the population relationships of the ethnic groups living in Tunisia have been poorly assessed. In order to gain insight into the paternal genetic landscape and population structure, more than 40 Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms and 17 short tandem repeats were analyzed in five Tunisian ethnic groups (three Berber-speaking isolates, one Andalusian, and one Cosmopolitan Arab). The most common lineage was the North African haplogroup E-M81 (71%), being fixed in two Berber samples (Chenini–Douiret and Jradou), suggesting isolation and genetic drift. Differential levels of paternal gene flow from the Near East were detected in the Tunisian samples (J-M267 lineage over 30%); however, no major sub-Saharan African or European influence was found. This result contrasts with the high amount of sub-Saharan and Eurasian maternal lineages previously described in Tunisia. Overall, our results reveal a certain genetic inter-population diversity, especially among Berber groups, and sexual asymmetry, paternal lineages being mostly of autochthonous origin. In addition, Andalusians, who are supposed to be migrants from southern Spain, do not exhibit any substantial contribution of European lineages, suggesting a North African origin for this ethnic group.
Journal of Human Genetics , (11 August 2011) | doi:10.1038/jhg.2011.92
Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome microstructure in Tunisia
Hajer Ennafaa et al.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome variation has been studied in Bou Omrane and Bou Saâd, two Tunisian Berber populations. In spite of their close geographic proximity, genetic distances between them were high and significant with both uniparental markers. A global analysis, including all previously studied Tunisian samples, confirmed the existence of a high female and male population structure in this country. Analyses of molecular variance analysis evidenced that this differentiation was not attributable to ethnic differences. Mantel test showed that, in all cases, Y-chromosome haplotypic distances correlated poorly with geography, whereas after excluding the more isolated samples of Bou Omrane and Bou Saâd, the mtDNA pattern of variation is significantly correlated with geography. Congruently, the Nm ratio of males versus females pointed to a significant excess of female migration rate across localities, which could be explained by patrilocality, a common marriage system in rural Tunisia. In addition, it has been observed that cultural isolation in rural communities promotes, by the effect of genetic drift, stronger loss of diversity and larger genetic differentiation levels than those observed in urban areas as deduced from comparisons of their respective mean genetic diversity and their respective mean genetic distances among populations. It is likely that the permanent exodus from rural to urban areas will have important repercussions in the future genetic structure of this country.