Genetic Affinity Between Diverse Ethnoreligious Communities of Tamil Nadu, India: A Microsatellite Study by ProQuest

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        Genetic Affinity Between Diverse Ethnoreligious Communities of
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        Tamil Nadu, India: A Microsatellite Study
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5       m. eaaswarkhanth, 1 t. s. vasulu, 2 and ikramul haque 1
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8               Abstract      Historically, a number of local Hindu caste groups have con-
9               verted to Islam and formed religious endogamous groups. Therefore the lo-
                cal caste groups and religious communities in a region are expected to show
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                genetic relatedness. In this study we investigate the genetic relationship be-
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                tween Tamil-speaking (Dravidian language) Muslims (Sunni), six endoga-
12              mous Hindu castes, and a tribal ethnic group (Irulars) using 13 CODIS (Com-                               [First Page]
13              bined DNA Index System) autosomal microsatellite markers. Muslims show
14              the highest average heterozygosity (0.405) compared to the other groups. The                              [601], (1)
15              neighbor-joining tree and the multidimensional-scaling plot show clustering
16              of Tamil-speaking Muslims with three caste groups (Gounder, Paraiyar, and
17              Vanniyar), whereas the Irular tribe is separated out of the cluster.                                      Lines: 0 to 39
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        India, being a center stage for modern human dispersals, is a diverse human
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        genetic pool drawn from widely divergent cultures, religions, languages, and
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        geographic backgrounds (Gadgil et al. 1997). Human diversity in India is char-
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        acterized by 4,635 documented communities, constituting 2,205 major popula-
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        tion groups (Singh 1998), 461 tribal communities (Singh 1992), 20 major lan-
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        guages, and approximately 750 dialects (Kosambi 1991). These groups reflect
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        diverse ethnic populations (Australian, Indo-Caucasian, Indo-Asian, and African
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        descent) and linguistic groups (Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and
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        Tibeto-Burman). Most of these ethnic populations belong to the Hindu religious
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        fold, which is socially systematized into endogamous hierarchical castes and sub-
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        castes (Mukherjee et al. 2001). In addition, other religious groups are present,
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        namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Jews. Islam is India’s
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        second largest religion, with Muslim populations making up 13% of the total In-
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        dian population (Census of India 2001).
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