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Keywords:

  • Y-STRs;
  • Y-SNPs;
  • Roma;
  • human demographic history

Abstract

According to written sources, Roma (Romanies, Gypsies) arrived in the Balkans around 1,000 years ago from India and have subsequently spread through several parts of Europe. Genetic data, particularly from the Y chromosome, have supported this model, and can potentially refine it. We now provide an analysis of Y-chromosomal markers from five Roma and two non-Roma populations (N = 787) in order to investigate the genetic relatedness of the Roma population groups to one another, and to gain further understanding of their likely Indian origins, the genetic contribution of non-Roma males to the Roma populations, and the early history of their splits and migrations in Europe. The two main sources of the Roma paternal gene pool were identified as South Asian and European. The reduced diversity and expansion of H1a-M82 lineages in all Roma groups imply shared descent from a single paternal ancestor in the Indian subcontinent. The Roma paternal gene pool also contains a specific subset of E1b1b1a-M78 and J2a2-M67 lineages, implying admixture during early settlement in the Balkans and the subsequent influx into the Carpathian Basin. Additional admixture, evident in the low and moderate frequencies of typical European haplogroups I1-M253, I2a-P37.2, I2b-M223, R1b1-P25, and R1a1-M198, has occurred in a more population-specific manner. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.