The latter is particularly interesting to me, because, these last Greeks of Magna Graecia are descended either from the ancient colonists or medieval Eastern Roman settlers, and as such may represent a group of Greek descendants that (i) may have admixed to some extent with local Italic speakers, but (ii) will not have had an opportunity to experience much post-medieval gene flow that may have affected Greeks from the Aegean.
There may be something wrong with the presentation of the haplogroup frequencies on the left; in particular, based on the text, I think that what appears as R1* is in fact R1*(xR1a1).
In any case, here are my observations on the Grecani Salentini sample:
- They, as well as the Messapi, possess the highest frequencies of E-M78. This ties them to the Balkans in a very obvious way; this haplogroup was also interpreted as a signal of Greek colonization in Sicily and Massalia. This seems like the most obvious explanation; note that Salento is in Messapia, so the high frequency in the non-Greek denizens of the region may be simply the result of language shift, since the remaining Greek speakers are presumably the last remnant of a once much more numerous population that was linguistically Italicized as have most other Greek speaking populations of Italy and Sicily.
- Their highest frequency haplogroups are R1*(xR1a1) and J2. Both are fairly common haplogroups in both Greece and Italy, so only a fine-scale analysis would be able to differentiate between what might be pre-Greek and what is Greek in origin. In any case, I have proposed that these two haplogroups were typical of (albeit not limited to) the Graeco-Phrygo-Armenian clade, so their occurrence in this sample is not surprising.
- There is an occurrence of I*(xM26) chromosomes. This requires finer phylogenetic resolution, but certainly the absence of M26 -which has a SW European distribution- is interesting to note.
- Haplogroup G-M201 again requires finer-scale resolution, and could be anything from a relative of the Neolithic Italians (having been found in the Tyrolean Iceman) to much more recent events.
- Within haplogroup J, the majority of the chromosomes belong to clade J2, with about a tenth of the frequency made up of J*(xM62, M172). Note that these are not necessarily J*(xJ1,J2) as indicated in the figure, since M62 defines only a part of the J1 lineage.
- The absence of haplogroup R1a1 in this sample is perhaps the most interesting finding. This occurs at a frequency of ~10% in Greek samples from Greece and is fairly variable. I have previously observed that it was absent in the south stream of Indo-European based on its paucity in Armenians, Albanians, and its uneven distribution in Greeks. Its absence in the Italian Griko sample reinforces this idea. A caveat, however, is that the origin of the Greek settlement of Italy can be traced to southern Greece and western Anatolia, so it's still possible that some R1a1 was present in other areas of the Aegean basin since pre-medieval times.
As for the Ladins, the high frequency (67.7%) of R1*(xR1a1) is consistent with what I believe to have been the main Italo-Celtic lineage.
Finally, I should point out the occurrence of a couple of haplogroup L samples; this haplogroup is more typical of populations much to the east, being the "eastern" cousin of the more "western" haplogroup T within the LT clade. Certainly a finer-scale resolution of these two L samples might be informative about their potential origins and/or the ancient distribution of this rather mysterious haplogroup.
PLoS ONE 7(12): e50794. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050794
Uniparental Markers of Contemporary Italian Population Reveals Details on Its Pre-Roman Heritage
Francesca Brisighelli et al.
According to archaeological records and historical documentation, Italy has been a melting point for populations of different geographical and ethnic matrices. Although Italy has been a favorite subject for numerous population genetic studies, genetic patterns have never been analyzed comprehensively, including uniparental and autosomal markers throughout the country.
A total of 583 individuals were sampled from across the Italian Peninsula, from ten distant (if homogeneous by language) ethnic communities — and from two linguistic isolates (Ladins, Grecani Salentini). All samples were first typed for the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region and selected coding region SNPs (mtSNPs). This data was pooled for analysis with 3,778 mtDNA control-region profiles collected from the literature. Secondly, a set of Y-chromosome SNPs and STRs were also analyzed in 479 individuals together with a panel of autosomal ancestry informative markers (AIMs) from 441 samples. The resulting genetic record reveals clines of genetic frequencies laid according to the latitude slant along continental Italy – probably generated by demographical events dating back to the Neolithic. The Ladins showed distinctive, if more recent structure. The Neolithic contribution was estimated for the Y-chromosome as 14.5% and for mtDNA as 10.5%. Y-chromosome data showed larger differentiation between North, Center and South than mtDNA. AIMs detected a minor sub-Saharan component; this is however higher than for other European non-Mediterranean populations. The same signal of sub-Saharan heritage was also evident in uniparental markers.
Italy shows patterns of molecular variation mirroring other European countries, although some heterogeneity exists based on different analysis and molecular markers. From North to South, Italy shows clinal patterns that were most likely modulated during Neolithic times.