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Ann Hum Biol. 2011 May;38(3):364-71. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2010.535562. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Y chromosome diversity among the Iranian religious groups: a reservoir of genetic variation.

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  • 1National Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Tehran, Iran.



Iran is ethnically, linguistically and religiously diverse. However, little is known about the population genetics of Iranian religious communities.


This study was performed in order to define the different paternal components of the Iranian gene pool.


Fourteen Y chromosome bi-allelic markers were analysed in 130 male subjects from Assyrian, Armenian and Zoroastrian groups in comparison with 208 male subjects from three Iranian Muslim groups.


Among the three Iranian Muslim groups, the Uromian people possessed a particularly close genetic relationship to the Armenian, whereas the Zoroastrian group was different from the Uromian, but had a close genetic relationship to the two other Muslim groups (Kermanian and Shirazian). The genetic results indicate a relationship between Armenian and Assyrian groups in Iran and a clear distinction of the former from the Zoroastrian group. However, Assyrians had elevated frequency (40%) of R*(xR1a) and low frequency (11%) of J.


The results of this study may suggest that the Assyrian population either experienced Eurasian gene flow (possibly from Armenia) or that enforced relocations and expulsion of conquered people with different origin led to the integration of descendants with R haplogroup. This could also be due to genetic drift due to small population size and endogamy resulting from religious barriers.

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