Traces of sub-saharan and middle eastern lineages in Indian muslim populations

Muthukrishnan Eaaswarkhanth, Ikramul Haque, Zeinab Ravesh, Irene Gallego Romero, Poorlin Ramakodi Meganathan, Bhawna Dubey, Faizan Ahmed Khan, Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Toomas Kivisild, Chris Tyler-Smith, Lalji Singh, Kumarasamy Thangaraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Islam is the second most practiced religion in India, next to Hinduism. It is still unclear whether the spread of Islam in India has been only a cultural transformation or is associated with detectable levels of gene flow. To estimate the contribution of West Asian and Arabian admixture to Indian Muslims, we assessed genetic variation in mtDNA, Y-chromosomal and LCT/MCM6 markers in 472, 431 and 476 samples, respectively, representing six Muslim communities from different geographical regions of India. We found that most of the Indian Muslim populations received their major genetic input from geographically close non-Muslim populations. However, low levels of likely sub-Saharan African, Arabian and West Asian admixture were also observed among Indian Muslims in the form of L0a2a2 mtDNA and E1b1b1a and J (xJ2) Y-chromosomal lineages. The distinction between Iranian and Arabian sources was difficult to make with mtDNA and the Y chromosome, as the estimates were highly correlated because of similar gene pool compositions in the sources. In contrast, the LCT/MCM6 locus, which shows a clear distinction between the two sources, enabled us to rule out significant gene flow from Arabia. Overall, our results support a model according to which the spread of Islam in India was predominantly cultural conversion associated with minor but still detectable levels of gene flow from outside, primarily from Iran and Central Asia, rather than directly from the Arabian Peninsula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-363
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010

Keywords

  • Gene flow
  • Indian Muslims
  • Middle East
  • MtDNA
  • Sub-Saharan
  • Y chromosome

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