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Ann Hum Biol. 2002 Sep-Oct;29(5):473-87.

Classical polymorphisms in Berbers from Moyen Atlas (Morocco): genetics, geography, and historical evidence in the Mediterranean peoples.

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Départément de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences. Université Chouaïb-Doukkali, El Jadida, Morocco.



Mediterranean population relationships have recently been reviewed through the analysis of classical and DNA markers. The differentiation between Berbers and Arabic-speakers to the south, and the genetic impact of the seven centuries of Muslim domination in the Iberian Peninsula have been among the most interesting questions posed in these studies.


The present study seeks to assess the degree of genetic affinity between the two main population groups of Morocco: Berbers and Arabic-speakers. Data from the Berber study population were also compared with published information on 20 circum-Mediterranean groups.


A Berber sample of 140 individuals from Moyen Atlas (Morocco) has been characterized using 15 classical markers (ABO, Duffy, MNSs, Rh, ACPl, AKl, ESD, GLOI, 6-PGD, PGMl, GC, HP, PI, PLG and TF).


Allele frequencies in the Berbers fit well into the general southern Mediterranean ranges, albeit with some peculiarities, such as the high FY*A, ACPl*C, and PI*S values. The general pattern of relationships among Mediterranean peoples tested by genetic variance analysis was compatible with a north-south geographical differentiation. Spatial auto-correlation analysis in the different geographical regions of the Mediterranean reveals that the highest degree of association between allele frequencies and geographical distances corresponds to the western (41% of significant correlograms) and northern Mediterranean populations (33%). When only southern Mediterranean groups were considered, the degree of geographical structure considerably decreases (11% of significant correlograms).


The different loci studied revealed close similarity between the Berbers and other north African groups, mainly with Moroccan Arabic-speakers, which is in accord with the hypothesis that the current Moroccan population has a strong Berber background. Differences in the spatial pattern of allele frequencies also are compatible with specific population histories in distinct Mediterranean areas, rather than general population movements across the whole region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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