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J Hum Genet. 2011 Mar;56(3):235-46. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2010.174. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomal stratification in Iran: relationship between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami, FL FL 33199, USA.


Modern day Iran is strategically located in the tri-continental corridor uniting Africa, Europe and Asia. Several ethnic groups belonging to distinct religions, speaking different languages and claiming divergent ancestries inhabit the region, generating a potentially diverse genetic reservoir. In addition, past pre-historical and historical events such as the out-of-Africa migrations, the Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent, the Indo-Aryan treks from the Central Asian steppes, the westward Mongol expansions and the Muslim invasions may have chiseled their genetic fingerprints within the genealogical substrata of the Persians. On the other hand, the Iranian perimeter is bounded by the Zagros and Albrez mountain ranges, and the Dasht-e Kavir and Dash-e Lut deserts, which may have restricted gene flow from neighboring regions. By utilizing high-resolution mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers and reanalyzing our previously published Y-chromosomal data, we have found a previously unexplored, genetic connection between Iranian populations and the Arabian Peninsula, likely the result of both ancient and recent gene flow. Furthermore, the regional distribution of mtDNA haplogroups J, I, U2 and U7 also provides evidence of barriers to gene flow posed by the two major Iranian deserts and the Zagros mountain range.

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