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Am J Hum Biol. 2012 Jul-Aug;24(4):391-9. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22220. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

The dual origin of Tati-speakers from Dagestan as written in the genealogy of uniparental variants.

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Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.



Tat language is classified in an Iranian subbranch of the Indo-European family. It is spoken in the Caucasus and in the West Caspian region by populations with heterogeneous cultural traditions and religion whose ancestry is unknown. The aim of this study is to get a first insight about the genetic history of this peculiar linguistic group.


We investigated the uniparental gene pools, defined by NRY and mtDNA high-resolution markers, in two Tati-speaking communities from Dagestan: Mountain Jews or Juhur, who speak the Judeo-Tat dialect, and the Tats, who speak the Muslim-Tat dialect. The samples have been collected in monoethnic rural villages and selected on the basis of genealogical relationships. A novel approach aimed at resolving cryptic cases in the recent history of human populations, which combines the properties of uniparental genetic markers with the potential of "forward-in-time" computer simulations, is presented.


Judeo-Tats emerged as a group with tight matrilineal genetic legacy who separated early from other Jewish communities. Tats exhibited genetic signals of a much longer in situ evolution, which appear as substantially unlinked with other Indo-Iranian enclaves in the Caucasus.


The independent demographic histories of the two samples, with mutually reversed profiles at paternally and maternally transmitted genetic systems, suggest that geographic proximity and linguistic assimilation of Tati-speakers from Dagestan do not reflect a common ancestry.

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