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Eur J Hum Genet. 2011 Sep;19(9):995-1001. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2011.65. Epub 2011 May 11.

Genetic variation in the Sorbs of eastern Germany in the context of broader European genetic diversity.

Author information

1
Department of Eco & Evo Biol, Interdepartmental Program in Bioinformatics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Abstract

Population isolates have long been of interest to genetic epidemiologists because of their potential to increase power to detect disease-causing genetic variants. The Sorbs of Germany are considered as cultural and linguistic isolates and have recently been the focus of disease association mapping efforts. They are thought to have settled in their present location in eastern Germany after a westward migration from a largely Slavic-speaking territory during the Middle Ages. To examine Sorbian genetic diversity within the context of other European populations, we analyzed genotype data for over 30 000 autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms from over 200 Sorbs individuals. We compare the Sorbs with other European individuals, including samples from population isolates. Despite their geographical proximity to German speakers, the Sorbs showed greatest genetic similarity to Polish and Czech individuals, consistent with the linguistic proximity of Sorbian to other West Slavic languages. The Sorbs also showed evidence of subtle levels of genetic isolation in comparison with samples from non-isolated European populations. The level of genetic isolation was less than that observed for the Sardinians and French Basque, who were clear outliers on multiple measures of isolation. The finding of the Sorbs as only a minor genetic isolate demonstrates the need to genetically characterize putative population isolates, as they possess a wide range of levels of isolation because of their different demographic histories.

PMID:
21559053
PMCID:
PMC3179365
DOI:
10.1038/ejhg.2011.65
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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