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Friday, September 15, 2006

Autosomal marker classification of Europeans

A recent article in PLoS Genetics, a peer-reviewed open-access journal, entitled "European Population Substructure: Clustering of Norther and Southern Populations" by Michael F. Seldin et al. found that it is possible to accuratedly segregate Europeans into northern and southern populations using a battery of autosomal single nucleatoid polymorphisms (SNPs).

Unlike the directly inherited y-chromosome and mtDNA tests that we use in the project, this project looked at autosomal DNA which is received from both the mother and father. Autosomal DNA is useful at assigning you to a population group (Asian, African, European, etc) but not to a particular family.

This paper is of note in part because Italian and Spanish samples essentially define the southern European genotype. 84 of the 86 Italian participants were classed as "southern", with participants from norther Italy generally more likely to have a greater "northern European" component than participants from southern Italy.

Click here to read the article. Here's the abstract:

Using a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel, we observed population structure in a diverse group of Europeans and European Americans.
Under a variety of conditions and tests, there is a consistent and reproducible distinction between “northern” and “southern” European population groups: most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek) have >85% membership in the “southern” population; and most northern, western, eastern, and central Europeans have >90% in the “northern” population group. Ashkenazi Jewish as well as Sephardic Jewish origin also showed >85% membership in the “southern” population, consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups. Based on this work, we have developed a core set of informative SNP markers that can control for this partition in European population structure in a variety of clinical and genetic studies.


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