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Monday, September 28, 2009

Saudi Arabian Y Chromosome Diversity and its Relationship with Nearby Regions

A new provisional study by Dr. Khalad Abu-Amero et al takes a detailed look at the genetic makeup of Saudi Arabians and provides a comparison with its geographical neighbours. Saudi Arabia has long been unsurveyed from a Y Chromosome Perspective and while many areas of the Middle East have been well studied, this new paper does shed light on the distribution of haplogroups in the Arabian Peninsula. Haplogroup J1, M267 was most frequent overall, representing 40% of the Y Chromosome samples. The authors are quick to note however, that Saudi Arabia is distinguished from its neighbours by higher levels of M172, Haplogroup J2. Haplogroup J2 was the second most frequent haplogroup found in the Study sample, representing 15.92% of the total. These J2 lineages were also tested for subclades M410, M47, M67, M92, M158, M339, M340, M12 and M241. The most frequent subclade of J2 was J2a, M410+ with the deletion at DYS 413 (rs34126399), which represented about 72% of all J2 in the study. M47 was also detected at 2.55% of the total or 16% of the J2 total. The higher levels of J2 found in Saudi Arabia were explained by the study's authors as being a result of Saudi Arabia's geographical proximity to the Fertile Crescent and northern boundary with the Levant. With respect to Haplogroup J1, the authors estimate, using a 0.00069 mutation rate, divergence ages for M267 at 11.2kya for Saudi Arabia and 11.3kya for Yemen, also noting these ages as significantly older than estimates for UAE, Qatar and Oman. This suggested a terrestrial colonization and spread of Haplogroup J1 in Saudi Arabia.