The genetic heritage of the earliest settlers persists both in Indian tribal and caste populations.

The genetic heritage of the earliest settlers persists both in Indian tribal and caste populations.


Two tribal groups from southern India–the Chenchus and Koyas–were analyzed for variation in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the Y chromosome, and one autosomal locus and were compared with six caste groups from different parts of India, as well as with western and central Asians. In mtDNA phylogenetic analyses, the Chenchus and Koyas coalesce at Indian-specific branches of haplogroups M and N that cover populations of different social rank from all over the subcontinent. Coalescence times suggest early late Pleistocene settlement of southern Asia and suggest that there has not been total replacement of these settlers by later migrations. H, L, and R2 are the major Indian Y-chromosomal haplogroups that occur both in castes and in tribal populations and are rarely found outside the subcontinent. Haplogroup R1a, previously associated with the putative Indo-Aryan invasion, was found at its highest frequency in Punjab but also at a relatively high frequency (26%) in the Chenchu tribe. This finding, together with the higher R1a-associated short tandem repeat diversity in India and Iran compared with Europe and central Asia, suggests that southern and western Asia might be the source of this haplogroup.Haplotype frequencies of the MX1 locus of chromosome 21 distinguish Koyas and Chenchus, along with Indian caste groups, from European and eastern Asian populations. Taken together, these results show that Indian tribal and caste populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians and have received limited gene flow from external regions since the Holocene. The phylogeography of the primal mtDNA and Y-chromosome founders suggests that these southern Asian Pleistocene coastal settlers from Africa would have provided the inocula for the subsequent differentiation of the distinctive eastern and western Eurasian gene pools.

One for the file. Has a fairly long piece on Y chromsome R1a in it. From my POV, the interesting bits were…

Less than 10% of the maternal lineages of the caste populations had an ancestor outside India in the past 12,000 years

In contrast, the Y-chromosome genetic distance estimates showed that the chromosomes of Indian caste populations were more closely related to Europeans than to eastern Asians

The similarities with Europeans were specifically expressed in substantial frequencies of clades J and R1a

As I’m interested in the Indo-European expansion. The paper describes the Chenchu as..

Chenchus are described as an australoid population, when physical anthropological features are used as criteria…
The Chenchu language belongs to the Dravidian language family.

There’s a page on them here.

Chenchu men

The other tribe mentioned are the Koyas, who look pretty similar.


8 responses to “The genetic heritage of the earliest settlers persists both in Indian tribal and caste populations.

  1. The Y-chromosomal data consistently suggest a largely South Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India, of people associated either with the development of agriculture or the spread of the Indo-Aryan language family.

    This is not what I read in those same maps. Specially it’s unacceptable for R1a, maybe the most important single South Asian haplogroup by raw size of numbers. Its proportions in some states are comparable only to Poland, Russia, Tajikistan and Kirghizistan. Furthermore, the haplotype matches are sometimes incredibly close between South Asia and Europe within this clade, what suggests persistent gene flow through the steppes at least until the time of Scythians (Iron Age, protohistory). There’s no archaeoligcal evidence of any sort that could support a migration from South Asia to Europe but there is strong evidence supporting sustained migrations from the Eurasian steppes to both regions. R1a cannot be considered a “native” South Asian clade.

    Additionally the distribution of L, while probably South Asian (Pakistani) in origin, appears to correlate with Neolithic cultural waves, largely being similar to that of J (on the maps at least). I’d say that both J and L appear “Neolithic”, though with different origins, while R1a appears Bronze/Iron Age of Indoeuropean steppary origin. Only H and R2 appear totally “native Indian”, but R2 is related to other widely spread Eurasian clades (Q, R1a, R1b) that may suggest an ultimate origin somewhere closer to Central Asia (Pakistan?) – though probably in Paleolithic times.

  2. Off Topic-They look like early dynastic period and old kingdom Pharaohs!

  3. Luis, I got to disagree with pretty much most of what you are saying, because more recent studies are beginning to put to all this:

    1) Indian R1a is much older and more diverse comparing to Central-Asian R1a. So there’s nothing to genetically suggest influx from steppes.

    2) And historically Scythians(Sakas) were native to Northern India & Pakistan.

    3) Genetic evidence is only pointing to a small amount of influence from the steppes inside India. Makes sense, South-Asia always been highly populated comparing to Central-Asia.

    4) Also there’s no archaeological evidence supporting a major migration from Central-Asia to South-Asia.

    5) R1a’s origin inside both Eastern-Europe & Central-Asia is just as unlikely, as a native India R1a Origin.

    6) There isn’t any major Bronze/Iron Age population change inside South-Asia also. Therefore majority of North-Indian(Pakistan to Bangladesh) Rla influx is mostly Neolithic.

    7) And J, L and G inside south-asia, all appear to be Neolithic in origin too. And Historically Middle-east is the source of India’s Neolithic revolution. Though L is still remains a mystery.

    8) A Small amounts of ancient R1a was present inside India since Paleolithic times. This is reported by Researcher, after studying Indian tribes like Chenchu and Saharia more indepth.

    9)Pakistan & North-India is most likely is the ultimately the home for R2, R1*, Q & P.
    While Iran Mostly is where both R1a and R1b originated from…

  4. I would like to know why R1a and R1b are supposed to originate from Iran.

  5. I know, only can you tell me which study shows this greatest diversity of R1a and R1b in Iran?
    About R1a1, I found a study of S. Sharma &c. proving the Indian origin of this haplogroup, as shown by this figure:

    So can we say that R1 is originated in India,
    R1a is originated in Iran, and R1a1 is originated in India?

  6. Although R1b hit’s a peak frequency in Western Europe, it’s diversity is highest through Eastern Turkey and the Zagros Mountains of Iran. While this fact is not disputed by mainstream science, it is (understandably) often resisted. Thus, R1b has an origin around the Iranian plateau. More importantly, R1b is a most likely candidate for the IE (Aryan) subgroup of Caucasoid peoples.

    In addition, R1a* diversity appears highest through a region stretching from Eastern Iran to N. India. It’s distribution is highly compatible with the idea that the proto-Scythian peoples (as well as ancestors to other tribes of peoples) left this region, and settled at the area of modern day Ukraine, becoming R1a1 founders. Of course, it is well documented that there was later contact between Scythians (and other central asian groups) and the Iranian people, and this explains how R1a1 is found in low-moderate levels through eastern Iran.

    R1a, R1b and their derivative groups, can be considered IE (Aryan) (if not R1 itself). While the former type is associated with Eastern Europeans, the latter type is associated with Western Europeans.

    • it’s diversity is highest through Eastern Turkey and the Zagros Mountains of Iran

      Thanks for the tip. You see R1b in central Africa, it traces a neolithic migration right from the heart of the birthplace of agriculture into central Africa.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s