The influence of admixture and consanguinity on population genetic diversity in Middle East

2014年9月25日 Journal of Human Genetics 59, 615-622 (2014) doi: 10.1038/jhg.2014.81



Xiong Yang, Suzanne Al-Bustan, Qidi Feng, Wei Guo, Zhiming Ma, Makia Marafie, Sindhu Jacob, Fahd Al-Mulla & Shuhua Xu

The Middle East (ME) is an important crossroad where modern humans migrated ‘out of Africa’ and spread into Europe and Asia. After the initial peopling and long-term isolation leading to well-differentiated populations, the ME also had a crucial role in subsequent human migrations among Africa, Europe and Asia; thus, recent population admixture has been common in the ME. On the other hand, consanguinity, a well-known practice in the ME, often reduces genetic diversity and works in opposition to admixture. Here, we explored the degree to which admixture and consanguinity jointly affected genetic diversity in ME populations. Genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism data were generated in two representative ME populations (Arabian and Iranian), with comparisons made with populations worldwide. Our results revealed an overall higher genetic diversity in both ME populations relative to other non-African populations. We identified a much larger number of long runs of homozygosity in ME populations than in any other populations, which was most likely attributed to high levels of consanguineous marriages that significantly decreased both individual and population heterozygosity. Additionally, we were able to distinguish African, European and Asian ancestries in ME populations and quantify the impact of admixture and consanguinity with statistical approaches. Interestingly, genomic regions with significantly excessive ancestry from individual source populations are functionally enriched in olfactory pathways, which were suspected to be under natural selection. Our findings suggest that genetic admixture, consanguinity and natural selection have collectively shaped the genetic diversity of ME populations, which has important implications in both evolutionary studies and medical practices.


Journal of Human Genetics ISSN: 0021-8820(Print) EISSN: 1881-1469(online)
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