A Genetic Landscape Reshaped by Recent Events: Y-Chromosomal Insights into Central Asia

Tatiana Zerjal,1 R. Spencer Wells,2 Nadira Yuldasheva,2,3 Ruslan Ruzibakiev,3 and Chris Tyler-Smith1

1Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, Oxford; 2Imperial Cancer Research Fund Cancer and Immunogenetics Laboratory and Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Headington, United Kingdom; and 3Institute of Immunology, Academy of Sciences, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Received March 25, 2002; accepted for publication May 23, 2002; electronically published July 17, 2002.

Sixteen Y-chromosomal microsatellites and 16 binary markers have been used to analyze DNA variation in 408 male subjects from 15 populations in Central Asia. Large genetic differences were found between populations, but these did not display an obvious geographical or linguistic pattern like that usually seen for Y-chromosomal variation. Nevertheless, an underlying east-west clinal pattern could be detected by the Autocorrelation Index for DNA Analysis and admixture analysis, and this pattern was interpreted as being derived from the ancient peopling of the area, reinforced by subsequent migrations. Two particularly striking features were seen: an extremely high level of Y-chromosomal differentiation between geographically close populations, accompanied by low diversity within some populations. These were due to the presence of high-frequency population-specific lineages and suggested the occurrence of several recent bottlenecks or founder events. Such events could account for the lack of a clear overall pattern and emphasize the importance of multiple recent events in reshaping this genetic landscape.

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