Title
Reconstructing the population history of European Romani from genome-wide data Reconstructing the population history of European Romani from genome-wide data
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Publication type
article
Publication
London ,
Subject
Chemistry
Biology
Human medicine
Source (journal)
Current biology. - London
Volume/pages
22(2012) :24 , p. 2342-2349
ISSN
0960-9822
ISI
000312760400025
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
The Romani, the largest European minority group with approximately 11 million people [1], constitute a mosaic of languages, religions, and lifestyles while sharing a distinct social heritage. Linguistic [2] and genetic [3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8] studies have located the Romani origins in the Indian subcontinent. However, a genome-wide perspective on Romani origins and population substructure, as well as a detailed reconstruction of their demographic history, has yet to be provided. Our analyses based on genome-wide data from 13 Romani groups collected across Europe suggest that the Romani diaspora constitutes a single initial founder population that originated in north/northwestern India ∼1.5 thousand years ago (kya). Our results further indicate that after a rapid migration with moderate gene flow from the Near or Middle East, the European spread of the Romani people was via the Balkans starting ∼0.9 kya. The strong population substructure and high levels of homozygosity we found in the European Romani are in line with genetic isolation as well as differential gene flow in time and space with non-Romani Europeans. Overall, our genome-wide study sheds new light on the origins and demographic history of European Romani.
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