Dissecting the molecular architecture and origin of Bayash Romani patrilineages: Genetic influences from South-Asia and the Balkans

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Abstract

The Bayash are a branch of Romanian speaking Roma living dispersedly in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. To better understand the molecular architecture and origin of the Croatian Bayash paternal gene pool, 151 Bayash Y chromosomes were analyzed for 16 SNPs and 17 STRs and compared with European Romani and non-Romani majority populations from Europe, Turkey, and South Asia. Two main layers of Bayash paternal gene pool were identified: ancestral (Indian) and recent (European). The reduced diversity and expansion signals of H1a patrilineages imply descent from closely related paternal ancestors who could have settled in the Indian subcontinent, possibly as early as between the eighth and tenth centuries AD. The recent layer of the Bayash paternal pool is dominated by a specific subset of E1b1b1a lineages that are not found in the Balkan majority populations. At least two private mutational events occurred in the Bayash during their migrations from the southern Balkans toward Romania. Additional admixture, evident in the low frequencies of typical European haplogroups, J2, R1a, I1, R1b1b2, G, and I2a, took place primarily during the early Bayash settlement in the Balkans and the Romani bondage in Romania. Our results indicate two phenomena in the Bayash and analyzed Roma: a significant preservation of ancestral H1a haplotypes as a result of considerable, but variable level of endogamy and isolation and differential distribution of less frequent, but typical European lineages due to different patterns of the early demographic history in Europe marked by differential admixture and genetic drift. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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