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The Genetic Legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into Population Structure, Gene Flow, and Selection

López, S; Thomas, MG; van Dorp, L; Ansari-Pour, N; Stewart, S; Jones, AL; Jelinek, E; ... Hellenthal, G; + view all (2017) The Genetic Legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into Population Structure, Gene Flow, and Selection. American Journal of Human Genetics , 101 (3) pp. 353-368. 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.07.013. Green open access

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Abstract

Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest extant religions in the world, originating in Persia (present-day Iran) during the second millennium BCE. Historical records indicate that migrants from Persia brought Zoroastrianism to India, but there is debate over the timing of these migrations. Here we present genome-wide autosomal, Y chromosome, and mitochondrial DNA data from Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians and neighboring modern-day Indian and Iranian populations and conduct a comprehensive genome-wide genetic analysis in these groups. Using powerful haplotype-based techniques, we find that Zoroastrians in Iran and India have increased genetic homogeneity relative to other sampled groups in their respective countries, consistent with their current practices of endogamy. Despite this, we infer that Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) intermixed with local groups sometime after their arrival in India, dating this mixture to 690-1390 CE and providing strong evidence that Iranian Zoroastrian ancestry was maintained primarily through the male line. By making use of the rich information in DNA from ancient human remains, we also highlight admixture in the ancestors of Iranian Zoroastrians dated to 570 BCE-746 CE, older than admixture seen in any other sampled Iranian group, consistent with a long-standing isolation of Zoroastrians from outside groups. Finally, we report results, and challenges, from a genome-wide scan to identify genomic regions showing signatures of positive selection in present-day Zoroastrians that might correlate to the prevalence of particular diseases among these communities.

Type: Article
Title: The Genetic Legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into Population Structure, Gene Flow, and Selection
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.07.013
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.07.013
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: India, Iran, Parsis, Zoroastrianism, admixture, genetic structure, population genetics, recent isolation
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute > Research Department of Oncology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1572488
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