May 01, 2008

Behar et al. (2008) on mtDNA of Jewish diaspora

After the recent paper by Behar et al. on the 100,000 year-long mitochondrial split between the Khoi-San and everyone else, a new study in PLoS One on Jewish mtDNA. The same author had addressed the problem of Ashkenazi Jewish mtDNA in 2006.

PLoS ONE. 2008 Apr 30;3(4):e2062.

Counting the founders: the matrilineal genetic ancestry of the jewish diaspora.

Behar DM, Metspalu E, Kivisild T, Rosset S, Tzur S, Hadid Y, Yudkovsky G, Rosengarten D, Pereira L, Amorim A, Kutuev I, Gurwitz D, Bonne-Tamir B, Villems R, Skorecki K.

The history of the Jewish Diaspora dates back to the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests in the Levant, followed by complex demographic and migratory trajectories over the ensuing millennia which pose a serious challenge to unraveling population genetic patterns. Here we ask whether phylogenetic analysis, based on highly resolved mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) phylogenies can discern among maternal ancestries of the Diaspora. Accordingly, 1,142 samples from 14 different non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities were analyzed. A list of complete mtDNA sequences was established for all variants present at high frequency in the communities studied, along with high-resolution genotyping of all samples. Unlike the previously reported pattern observed among Ashkenazi Jews, the numerically major portion of the non-Ashkenazi Jews, currently estimated at 5 million people and comprised of the Moroccan, Iraqi, Iranian and Iberian Exile Jewish communities showed no evidence for a narrow founder effect, which did however characterize the smaller and more remote Belmonte, Indian and the two Caucasus communities. The Indian and Ethiopian Jewish sample sets suggested local female introgression, while mtDNAs in all other communities studied belong to a well-characterized West Eurasian pool of maternal lineages. Absence of sub-Saharan African mtDNA lineages among the North African Jewish communities suggests negligible or low level of admixture with females of the host populations among whom the African haplogroup (Hg) L0-L3 sub-clades variants are common. In contrast, the North African and Iberian Exile Jewish communities show influence of putative Iberian admixture as documented by mtDNA Hg HV0 variants. These findings highlight striking differences in the demographic history of the widespread Jewish Diaspora.



Maju said...

I miss a comparison with (regionally organized) non-Jewish West Eurasian mtDNA. The same that Indian and Ethiopian Jews have mostly native maternal lineages, I have the feeling that many West Eurasian ones do too (for instance H1 and not just the mentioned H0). Of course it's difficult to tell which were the haplo frequencies of pre-Diaspora Jews (though I would not be surprised if they were roughly those of modern Palestinians) but with a comparison region by region with the locals it would be easier to estimate that degree of admixture somewhat.

It's quite evident that is made with an Israeli mindset, not wanting to emphasize "introgressions".

Unknown said...

"I would not be surprised if they were roughly those of modern Palestinians"

May be Palestinians will have more freaquency of those. Just in genetic pool point of view.

Maju said...

Does "of those" means "of original Jewish haplogroup frequencies"?

It's hard, maybe impossible to tell. Palestine was subject to maybe the worst genocide of ancient history and surely has recieved since then some input both from Eastern Romans (several Hellenistic groups) and Arabs. But probably these were more male-mediated too.

But Jewish ancestry, after more than 2,000 years of diaspora, moving from here to there, interacting with the locals everywhere, with many states (from Russia to Yemen, from Kurdistan to North Africa) that converted to Judaism, even if they were short-lived... it's hard to know which part is genuinely Jewish and which belong to other origins. Studies like this one should help to shed light on this but the researchers have declined to study it in West Eurasia (only too obvious Indian and Ethiopian admixture is mentioned).

So you have a lot of interesting raw data but little more.