A newly discovered founder population: the Roma/Gypsies
Article first published online: 14 SEP 2005
Copyright © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 27, Issue 10, pages 1084–1094, October 2005
How to Cite
Kalaydjieva, L., Morar, B., Chaix, R. and Tang, H. (2005), A newly discovered founder population: the Roma/Gypsies. Bioessays, 27: 1084–1094. doi: 10.1002/bies.20287
- Issue published online: 14 SEP 2005
- Article first published online: 14 SEP 2005
- The Wellcome Trust, the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
The Gypsies (a misnomer, derived from an early legend about Egyptian origins) defy the conventional definition of a population: they have no nation-state, speak different languages, belong to many religions and comprise a mosaic of socially and culturally divergent groups separated by strict rules of endogamy. Referred to as “the invisible minority”, the Gypsies have for centuries been ignored by Western medicine, and their genetic heritage has only recently attracted attention. Common origins from a small group of ancestors characterise the 8–10 million European Gypsies as an unusual trans-national founder population, whose exodus from India played the role of a profound demographic bottleneck. Social and economic pressures within Europe led to gradual fragmentation, generating multiple genetically differentiated subisolates. The string of population bottlenecks and founder effects have shaped a unique genetic profile, whose potential for genetic research can be met only by study designs that acknowledge cultural tradition and self-identity. BioEssays 27:1084–1094, 2005. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.