How related are South Asians?

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I've been geeking out on genetics recently and I came across this Wikipedia page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-DNA_haplogroups_in_South_Asian_populations

It lists out the results of several studies which sampled various ethnic / linguistic / geographic groups in India and the Haplogroups they are a part of.  I'm not going to pretend I knew what a Haplogroup was until recently, so I'll quickly explain it:  

A Haplogroup is basically a set of genes which show up together frequently in a given population.  They come from the Y chromosome and so the presence of one group or another indicates a common male ancestor. I gather it's It's more complicated than this, but that's what I understand..

I took the data from some of the groups, and shoved it into a spreadsheet to see how related these different (and often acrimonious) communities are genetically:

Group 1 Group 2 Correlation Coefficient 
Low Castes Middle Castes 0.869
Low Castes High Castes 0.653
Middle Castes High Castes 0.913
Indo Euopean Sri Lankan 0.651
Indo Euopean Dravidian 0.706
Indo Euopean Munda -0.071
Indo Euopean Nepalese (Tharu) -0.327

These are not apples to apples type comparisons and the datasets have wildly varying margins of error.

A couple things that are interesting:

  • There is a signifigant difference between low and high caste people, but less between middle and high.
  • The difference between Indo-European Indians and Dravidians is actually about the same as high/low caste across the entire continent.
  • There is almost no correlation between IE and Munda people despite thousands of years of cohabitation across broad stretches of east and north-east India
  • The Tharu people have an inverse correlation to Indo-Europeans across most Haplotypes even though they are mostly linked linguistically and in religion. As a side note, they are the only population in South Asia who happens to carry the trait for thalassemia which prevents malaria (and can cause sickle cell).  Weird...

Okay, I hope that was mildly interesting, it was fun interneting for me.

 

 

 

 

 

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