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Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 2;7(1):14969. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14761-7.

The genetic variation in the R1a clade among the Ashkenazi Levites' Y chromosome.

Author information

1
Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, 51010, Estonia. behardm@genebygene.com.
2
Genomic Research Center, Gene by Gene, Houston, 77008, Texas, USA. behardm@genebygene.com.
3
Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, 51010, Estonia.
4
Independent Genetic Genealogy Researcher, Savyon, 5690500, Israel.
5
levitedna.org, Los Angeles, 90045, California, USA.
6
Genomic Research Center, Gene by Gene, Houston, 77008, Texas, USA.
7
Institute of Genetics and Cytology, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, 220072, Minsk, Belarus.
8
Laboratory of Ethnogenomics, Institute of Molecular Biology of National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, 0014, Armenia.
9
Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 40126, Italy.
10
APE Lab, Dept. of Biology, University of Padova, 35121, Padova, Italy.
11
Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 9112102, Israel.
12
Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, 3109601, Israel.
13
Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology University of Tartu, Tartu, 51010, Estonia.
14
Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, 3109601, Israel.

Abstract

Approximately 300,000 men around the globe self-identify as Ashkenazi Levites, of whom two thirds were previously shown to descend from a single male. The paucity of whole Y-chromosome sequences precluded conclusive identification of this ancestor's age, geographic origin and migration patterns. Here, we report the variation of 486 Y-chromosomes within the Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Levite R1a clade, other Ashkenazi Jewish paternal lineages, as well as non-Levite Jewish and non-Jewish R1a samples. Cumulatively, the emerging profile is of a Middle Eastern ancestor, self-affiliating as Levite, and carrying the highly resolved R1a-Y2619 lineage, which was likely a minor haplogroup among the Hebrews. A star-like phylogeny, coalescing similarly to other Ashkenazi paternal lineages, ~1,743 ybp, suggests it to be one of the Ashkenazi paternal founders; to have expanded as part of the overall Ashkenazi demographic expansion, without special relation to the Levite affiliation; and to have subsequently spread to non-Ashkenazi Levites.

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