August 24, 2004

mtDNA from Xinjiang

A new study quantifies the level of Caucasoid admixture in various populations of the Xinjiang province of China, which ranges from 0% in the Han Chinese to 43% in the Uygur.

Mol Biol Evol.
2004 Aug 18 [Epub ahead of print]

Different Matrilineal Contributions to Genetic Structure of Ethnic Groups in the Silk Road Region in China.

Yao YG

Previous studies have shown that there were extensive genetic admixtures in the Silk Road region. In the present study, we analyzed 252 mtDNAs of five ethnic groups (Uygur, Uzbek, Kazak, Mongolian, and Hui) from Xinjiang Province, China (where once was the via route of the Silk Road), together with some reported data from the adjacent regions in Central Asia. In a simple way, we classified the mtDNAs into different haplogroups (monophyletic clades in the rooted mtDNA tree) according to the available phylogenetic information and compared their frequencies to show the differences among the matrilineal genetic structures of these populations with different demographic histories. With the exception of 8 unassigned M(*), N(*) and R(*) mtDNAs, all the mtDNA types identified here belonged to defined subhaplogroups of haplogroups M and N (including R) and consisted of subsets of both the eastern and western Eurasian pools, thus providing direct evidence in supporting the suggestion that Central Asia be the place of the genetic admixture of the East and the West. Although our samples were from the same geographic location, a decreasing tendency of the western Eurasian-specific haplogroup frequency was observed, with the highest frequency present in Uygur (42.6%) and Uzbek (41.4%), followed by Kazak (30.2%), Mongolian (14.3%), and Hui (6.7%). No western Eurasian type was found in Han Chinese samples from the same place. The frequencies of the eastern Eurasian-specific haplogroups also varied in these samples. Combined with the historical records, ethno-origin, migratory history, and marriage custom might play different roles in shaping the matrilineal genetic structure of different ethnic populations resided in this region.

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