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Genetic Variation in India

S.S. PAPIHA
Human Biology
Vol. 68, No. 5, Special Issue on the Level of Genetic Differentiation in Populations of the Indian Subcontinent (October 1996), pp. 607-628
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41465511
Page Count: 22
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Genetic Variation in India
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Abstract

In the last 25 years a number of genetic studies on the populations of the Indian subcontinent have been conducted. Unfortunately, most of the studies covered a limited number of genetic systems, and only a few provide information on the genetic differentiation and population structure of some regional caste, tribal, religious, and urban groups. Despite a recent report suggesting that in eastern India genetic affinity does not show any large degree of congruence with sociocultural hierarchy, three distinct surveys reported here indicate that geographic proximity, ethnohistory, and biosocial and cultural affiliation are important determinants of genetic affinity. Gene differentiation studies are few, but from the information of some previous papers and results presented in this special issue of Human Biology, the pattern of differentiation is becoming clear. In general, genetic differentiation in populations of India is low (0.26–1.7%), but overall genetic differentiation in 18 mixed populations of India is higher (2.23%), similar to the largest single study on 16 tribal groups from central India (2.18%). The tribal population of South India shows the highest FST value (4.1%), and this value is similar to a study of the Dhangar caste group. The reason for this high FST value is not clear. One possibility may be (semi-) isolation associated with such factors as random inbreeding and drift, which can cause high levels of genetic differentiation among the tribal groups of India and among the castes such as Dhangar. However, further studies are needed to explore the causes of such high values of genetic differentiation, especially in these populations.

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