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Eur J Hum Genet. 2010 Mar;18(3):354-63. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2009.168. Epub 2009 Oct 7.

Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern lineages in Indian Muslim populations.

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  • 1National DNA Analysis Centre, Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Kolkata, India.

Abstract

Islam is the second most practiced religion in India, next to Hinduism. It is still unclear whether the spread of Islam in India has been only a cultural transformation or is associated with detectable levels of gene flow. To estimate the contribution of West Asian and Arabian admixture to Indian Muslims, we assessed genetic variation in mtDNA, Y-chromosomal and LCT/MCM6 markers in 472, 431 and 476 samples, respectively, representing six Muslim communities from different geographical regions of India. We found that most of the Indian Muslim populations received their major genetic input from geographically close non-Muslim populations. However, low levels of likely sub-Saharan African, Arabian and West Asian admixture were also observed among Indian Muslims in the form of L0a2a2 mtDNA and E1b1b1a and J(*)(xJ2) Y-chromosomal lineages. The distinction between Iranian and Arabian sources was difficult to make with mtDNA and the Y chromosome, as the estimates were highly correlated because of similar gene pool compositions in the sources. In contrast, the LCT/MCM6 locus, which shows a clear distinction between the two sources, enabled us to rule out significant gene flow from Arabia. Overall, our results support a model according to which the spread of Islam in India was predominantly cultural conversion associated with minor but still detectable levels of gene flow from outside, primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.

PMID:
19809480
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2859343
Free PMC Article
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