Hum Genet. 2004 Jun;115(1):19-28. Epub 2004 Apr 09. Related Articles, Links


The origin of the isolated population of the Faroe Islands investigated using Y chromosomal markers.

Jorgensen TH, Buttenschon HN, Wang AG, Als TD, Borglum AD, Ewald H.

Institute for Basic Psychiatric Research, Department of Psychiatric Demography, Aarhus University Hospital, Skovagervej 2, 8240, Aarhus, Denmark, Tove.Hedegaard@sysbot.lu.se

Historical, archaeological and linguistic sources suggest that the ancestors of the present day population in the Faroe Islands may have their origin in several different regions surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean. In this study we use binary and microsatellite markers of the Y chromosome to analyse genetic diversity in the Faroese population and to compare this with the distribution of genotypes in the putative ancestral populations. Using a combination of genetic distance measures, assignment and phylogenetic analyses, we find a high degree of similarity between the Faroese Y chromosomes and the Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic Y chromosomes but also some similarity with the Scottish and Irish Y chromosomes. Diversity measures and estimates of effective population sizes also suggest that the original gene pool of the settlers have been influenced by random genetic drift, thus complicating direct comparisons with other populations. No extensive immigration from Iceland to the Faroe Islands can be documented in the historical record. We therefore hypothesise that the high degree of Y chromosome similarity between the two populations arose because they were colonised at approximately the same time by males originating from the same regions of Scandinavia and, to a lesser extent, from the British Isles.



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Eur J Hum Genet. 2002 Jun;10(6):381-7. Related Articles, Links


Linkage disequilibrium and demographic history of the isolated population of the Faroe Islands.

Jorgensen TH, Degn B, Wang AG, Vang M, Gurling H, Kalsi G, McQuillin A, Kruse TA, Mors O, Ewald H.

Institute for Basic Psychiatric Research, Department of Psychiatric Demography, Psychiatric Hospital in Aarhus, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark. demograf@psykiatri.aaa.dk

The isolated population of the Faroe Islands has a history of recent expansion after being limited to a small size for centuries. Such an isolated population may be ideal for linkage disequilibrium mapping of disease genes if linkage disequilibrium (LD) extends over large regions. Analyses of 18 markers on 12q24.3, spanning a region of 4.3 Mb (16 cM), revealed extensive LD in the Faroese population. Maximum LD was found between marker pairs separated by more than 3.8 Mb. The same region had a maximum LD of only 1.2 and 1.4 Mb respectively in two outbred Danish and British populations analysed here for comparison. The analyses of gene diversity excess at 15 unlinked microsatellite markers did not reveal any sign of a severe bottleneck to have occurred within approximately 1200 years' history of the Faroese population. The extensive LD in this population may, therefore, have arisen primarily by random genetic drift. The implications for future gene mapping studies are discussed.