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Research Article

Low Levels of Genetic Divergence across Geographically and Linguistically Diverse Populations from India

  • Noah A Rosenberg mail,

    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rnoah@umich.edu (NAR); pragna@usc.edu (PIP)

    Affiliation: Department of Human Genetics, Bioinformatics Program, and the Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America

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  • Saurabh Mahajan,

    Affiliation: Institute for Genetic Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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  • Catalina Gonzalez-Quevedo,

    Affiliation: Institute for Genetic Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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  • Michael G. B Blum,

    Affiliation: Department of Human Genetics, Bioinformatics Program, and the Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States of America

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  • Laura Nino-Rosales,

    Affiliation: Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

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  • Vasiliki Ninis,

    Affiliation: Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

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  • Parimal Das,

    Affiliation: Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

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  • Madhuri Hegde,

    Affiliation: Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

    ยค Current address: Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

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  • Laura Molinari,

    Affiliation: Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

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  • Gladys Zapata,

    Affiliation: Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

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  • James L Weber,

    Affiliation: Center for Medical Genetics, Marshfield Medical Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wisconsin, United States of America

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  • John W Belmont,

    Affiliation: Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America

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  • Pragna I Patel mail

    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rnoah@umich.edu (NAR); pragna@usc.edu (PIP)

    Affiliations: Institute for Genetic Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America, Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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  • Published: December 22, 2006
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0020215

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High Levels of Genetic Divergence across Indian Populations

Posted by PLoS_Genetics on 20 Feb 2008 at 11:31 GMT

Originally submitted as a Reader Response by Clyde Winters (c-winters@govst.edu) on 2 May 2007:

Rosenberg et al. (2006) argue that there is a low level of genetic divergence across geographically and linguistically diverse Indian populations based on their analysis of Indo-Aryan and Dravidian speakers from India.

East and Northeast Indian tribes speak Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman languages (respectively) [1-2]. The Austro-Asiatic people were probably the original inhabitants of India. Kumar et al. have presented convincing Y-chromosome evidence that Austro-Asiatic people of India and Southeast Asia belonging to the haplogroup O-M95 originated in India, particularly among the Mundari [1-3]. They probably migrated to Southeast Asia 40,000ybp.

The Dravidian and Indo-Aryan people probably belong to the same population and share a Proto-Dravidian MRCA. Due to early Dravidian settlement in Northern India there is a Dravidian substratum in Indo-Aryan [4-5]. There are Dravidian loans in the Rg Veda [6-8], even though Aryan recorders of this work were situated in the Punjab, which was probably occupied around this time by Dravidians [4].

In conclusion, the presence of East Asian and Austro-Asiatic specific mtDNA in India makes it clear that there is extensive genetic divergence across geographically and linguistically diverse Indian populations [1-3]. Moreover, use of Indo-Aryan and Dravidian speakers as representative samples of diverse Indian populations was not an accurate example of the linguistic and geographical diversity of Indian populations because TMRCA of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian speakers in India was probably a Proto-Dravidian [5].

References
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2. Cordaux R, Saha N, Bentley GR, Aunger R, Sirajuddin SM, et al. (2003) Mitochondrial DNA analysis reveals diverse histories of tribal populations from India. Eur J Hum Genet 11: 253–264.
3. Kumar V, Reddy ANS, Babu JP, et al. (2007). Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal heritage of Austro-Asiatic populations. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 7:47.
4. Winters C (1989). Review on Dr. Asko Parpola’s ‘The Coming of the Aryans’. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 18 (2): 98-127.
5. 1988c. The Proto-Dravidians in Central Asia. Journal of Tamil Studies 31: 73-76.
6. Emeneau M and T Burrow. 1962. Dravidian Borrowing from Indo-Aryan. Berkeley: University of California Press.
7. Southworth FC (1977). Lexical evidence for early contacts between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. Proc. Of the Conf. On Aryan and Non-Aryan in India, 1976. University of Michigan.
8. ISDL. 1983. Report on the Dravidian Languages. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics 12(1): 227.