Bene Israel’s Indian maternal genes

January 18, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Bene Israel's Indian maternal genesKerala, January 16, 2013:  Bene Israel, the community of Jews living in India since the 2nd century BC carries Indian maternal genome. According to a recently published study “The Population genetics of the Jewish people,” mitochondrial genome (which is passed intact from mother to children) of Bene Israel individuals was of Indian origin. The study also traced 30% of their mitochondrial genomes to two founding mothers.

The study published in February 2013 edition of the journal Human Genetics analyzed genetic studies over the years of different Jewish population. The study found that the Jewish populations of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East were genetically distinct community and different from their non-Jewish neighbors.

“The closest genetic neighbors to most Jewish groups were the Palestinians, Israeli Bedouins, and Druze in addition to the Southern Europeans, including Cypriots,” observed Harry Ostrer and Karl Skorecki, authors of this study.

The authors acknowledged that their observation is not consistent with historians who have been using archeology, archival records, and practices to trace Jewish migration.

All the Jewish population had West Asian-origin mitochondrial genomes except for Ethiopian community which had African and Bene Israel which had Indian origin mitochondrial genome. This also explains why Indian and Ethiopian Jews bear physical resemblance to the host population.

However, even groups like Bene Israel and Indian Cochin Jews were distinct homogenous population indicating that there was not much marriage taking place outside the community.

Uniparental genome region analysis does show that male genes were mostly of West Asian origin for the Bene Israel population.


– tcn

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