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Am J Hum Genet. 1979 May;31(3):341-65.

Analysis of biochemical genetic data on Jewish populations: II. Results and interpretations of heterogeneity indices and distance measures with respect to standards.


A nonparametric statistical methodology is used for the analysis of biochemical frequency data observed on a series of nine Jewish and six non-Jewish populations. Two categories of statistics are used: heterogeneity indices and various distance measures with respect to a standard. The latter are more discriminating in exploiting historical, geographical and culturally relevant information. A number of partial orderings and distance relationships among the populations are determined. Our concern in this study is to analyze similarities and differences among the Jewish populations, in terms of the gene frequency distributions for a number of genetic markers. Typical questions discussed are as follows: These Jewish populations differ in certain morphological and anthropometric traits. Are there corresponding differences in biochemical genetic constitution? How can we assess the extent of heterogeneity between and within groupings? Which class of markers (blood typings or protein loci) discriminates better among the separate populations? The results are quite surprising. For example, we found the Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Iraqi Jewish populations to be consistently close in genetic constitution and distant from all the other populations, namely the Yemenite and Cochin Jews, the Arabs, and the non-Jewish German and Russian populations. We found the Polish Jewish community the most heterogeneous among all Jewish populations. The blood loci discriminate better than the protein loci. A number of possible interpretations and hypotheses for these and other results are offered. The method devised for this analysis should prove useful in studying similarities and differences for other groups of populations for which substantial biochemical polymorphic data are available.

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