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Ann Hum Biol. 2018 Feb;45(1):57-65. doi: 10.1080/03014460.2017.1411525.

Ripples on the surface. Surnames and genes in Sicily and Southern Italy.

Author information

1
a Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences , University of Bologna , Bologna , Italy.
2
b Institute of Molecular Genetics (IGM) , Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) , Pavia , Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Southern Italy and Sicily played a key role in the peopling history of the Mediterranean. While genetic research showed the remarkable homogeneity of these regions, surname-based studies instead suggested low population mobility, hence potential structuring.

AIM:

In order to better understand these different patterns, this study (1) thoroughly analysed the surname structure of Sicily and Southern Italy and (2) tested its relationships with a wide set of molecular markers.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

Surname data were collected from 1213 municipalities and compared to uniparental and autosomal genetic markers typed in ∼300 individuals from 8-10 populations. Surname analyses were performed using different multivariate methods, while comparisons with genetic data relied on correlation tests.

RESULTS:

Surnames were clearly structured according to regional geographic patterns, which likely emerged because of recent isolation-by-distance-like population dynamics. In general, genetic markers, hinting at a pervasive homogeneity, did not correlate with surname distribution. However, long autosomal haplotypes (>5 cM) that compared to genotypic (SNPs) data identify more "recent" relatedness, showing a clear association with surname patterns.

CONCLUSION:

The apparent contradiction between surname structure and genetic homogeneity was resolved by figuring surnames as recent "ripples" deposited on a vast and ancient homogeneous genetic "surface".

KEYWORDS:

Genetic homogeneity; Mediterranean; fine surname structure; haplotype-based relatedness

PMID:
29183201
DOI:
10.1080/03014460.2017.1411525
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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