September 28, 2010

Y chromosome study of Serbian Roma

The haplogroups are available as supplementary material. I wonder whether different population of Roma underwent different levels of admixture, or whether the Roma are themselves originally unrelated groups of wanderers which came to be identified by others as "Gypsies" and eventually believed it.

Both "massive admixture" and the scenario I am entertaining have their problems: in the former: why did a group of Roma admix so heavily while another not at all? in the latter: how did groups of unrelated origin come to share common cultural-linguistic traits? Balkan ethnology is not easy.

Here is an interesting tidbit from the paper which complements my recent enumeration of the genealogical mutation rate's superiority:
For the majority of the populations, time estimates based on Zhivotovsky et al., (2004) and NETWORK using the evolutionary mutation rate are comparable.
On the other hand, time estimates using the genealogical mutation rate (Goedbloed et al., 2009) seem to fit better with historical data of the Romani diaspora.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21372

Divergent patrilineal signals in three Roma populations

Maria Regueiro et al.


Previous studies have revealed that the European Roma share close genetic, linguistic and cultural similarities with Indian populations despite their disparate geographical locations and divergent demographic histories. In this study, we report for the first time Y-chromosome distributions in three Roma collections residing in Belgrade, Vojvodina and Kosovo. Eighty-eight Y-chromosomes were typed for 14 SNPs and 17 STRs. The data were subsequently utilized for phylogenetic comparisons to pertinent reference collections available from the literature. Our results illustrate that the most notable difference among the three Roma populations is in their opposing distributions of haplogroups H and E. Although the Kosovo and Belgrade samples exhibit elevated levels of the Indian-specific haplogroup H-M69, the Vojvodina collection is characterized almost exclusively by haplogroup E-M35 derivatives, most likely the result of subsequent admixture events with surrounding European populations. Overall, the available data from Romani groups points to different levels of gene flow from local populations.


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The demography of the region suggests an explanation.

Vojvodina is the Switzerland of Serbia. Per Wikipedia: "Vojvodina prides itself on its multi-ethnicity and multi-cultural identity with a number of mechanisms for the promotion of minorities; there are more than 26 ethnic groups in the province, which has six official languages. The largest ethnic groups are Serbs (65%) and Hungarians (14%)." The predominance of Serbs in the mix also overstates the case, because quite a bit of Southern Vojvodina looks ethnically more like Central Serbia, while minority populations in the region are present in more equal numbers with each other in Northern Vojvodina.

Central Serbia is about 90% Serbian and ethnic minorities in Central Serbia are concentrated far from Belgrade on its Southern boundaries with Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia, and is basically monolingual in Serbian, so Belgrade should be considerably more than 90% Serbian.

"Kosovo is mainly populated by ethnic Albanians who make up 87 percent of the population. Serbs are the second largest ethnic group in Kosovo with 7 percent of the population, while Gorani, Roma, and Turks, represents six percent of the population combined."

The plausible implication is that in Belgrade and Kosovo the existence of a dominant ethnicity caused Roma to be isolated from the majority communities as "outsiders," while in Vojvodina, where there has been by necessity a more tolerant multi-ethnic population with less clear notions of who is and is not an "outsider," the social boundaries between Roma and other communities has been weaker with the result that more non-Roma men were included in the community.

Unknown said...

Vojvodina is not Switzerland of Serbia, in any comparison. Diference in development of manucipalit there is too big to call it European region. It is shame for local goverment in
Novi Sad. It example of etnical engineering done by Austrian Empire and Comuniste regime.
Still it was mixing of different ethnicity.

In Serbia in public perception there is clear distinction between three populations of Roma: Turkish Roma, Roma from Banat and Vlachen Roma. From this paper it is clear that it is
good identification of Vojvodina Roma (Roma from Banat) as distinct group, population.
In this paper missing parts are Roma people from towns like Sabac as well as from Vranje
and Leskovac where they are settled for longer period and so called Vlachen Roma
from Eastern Serbia. After that research is done it will be clear how two remaining groups
of Roma is Serbia are related and their position within Roma people in Balkans and Europe.

Roma people from northern parts of serbia as well as from Vranje and Leskovac and Sabac are setled w

Marnie said...

Thanks, Dragan.

It's true that Balkan locals seem to have clear distinctions of different Roma people. In the prefecture of Kozani, there is a clear distinction between Vlachs (Vlachen Roma) who have long had their own villages, and more mobile "other" Roma.