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Monday, June 7, 2010

Genetic comparisons of Basques and Jews


This past week I have been really oblivious to anything that was not directly related to the Zionist criminal assault of the Freedom Flotilla. I really did not feel that almost anything else mattered. Sometimes the tragedy of History just takes all the emotional and mental space and there is not really much room for anything else, I guess you can understand that.

However some more or less interesting stuff has been published in the meantime, in particular two papers on West Eurasian autosomal genetics which have been addressed at Dienekes' Anthropology Blog. So it's time to make a brief mention of them:


Basque genetics and other Europeans

Naiara Rodríguez Ezpeleta et al. High-density SNP genotyping detects homogeneity of Spanish and French Basques, and confirms their genomic distinctiveness from other European populations. Human Genetics. Pay per view.

See: Dienekes' relevant post for abstract, some details and his very questionable opinions, as well as for some discussion among readers.




Particularly questionable is his opinion that Basques should still be genetically identical to all other Iberians, based on one paper's Fst data but ignoring a whole array of other papers. These are (at least) Bauchet 2007 (discussed here), Achili 2007 (discussed here), Tian 2009 and Athaniasiadis 2010 (discussed here).

While Iberians are not sampled and plotted, based on the data of Tian 2009, they should show up very close to French and Italians (except the unique Sardinians), slightly above the (0,0) coordinates, in the graph above. Of course, it dependends on which Iberians but I'm talking about the main cluster, not Cantabrians nor Catalans.


Jewish genetics: yet another instance of truth avoidance

G. Atzmon et al. Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry. American Journal of Human Genetics, 2010. Pay per view (but should be freely accessible in six months).

See also Dienekes' relevant post.

Note: capitalized labels refer to Jewish subgroups. I strongly suspect, based on Fst distances (see second update below), that Palestinian and Bedouin labels are mistaken and should be the other way around.

It really frustrated me once again that Turks (nor Greeks nor Syrians) had been compared with. [note: see update below, this is not true after all and is quite revealing] The most logical hypothesis, based both on historical and the available genetic data, suggests that modern Jews (or most of them) are not so much descendants of historical Jews from Palestine as from a hybrid population that coalesced mainly in Asia Minor in Hellenistic and Roman times.

The above graph does not contradict this hypothesis at all, at least for the main Jewish population of Europe, Turkey and Syria. Irano-Iraqi Jews instead probably had different origins, the same that Yemeni, North African and Ethiopian Jews do as well (not studied here).

The affinity to Adigey (a NW Caucasian people) strongly suggests this, as well as the fact that they seem less Levantine than such an outsider population as are the Druzes (with Anatolian and Egyptian origins, not Levantine). Anyone familiar with European genetics would expect Greeks and Turks to pop up almost exactly where most Jews do.


Comparing with Bauchet-2007

But if you doubt my words, I suggest that you look at Bauchet 2007, which is the only paper so fare that has compared Jews (Ashkenazi) with Greeks and Armenians, resulting in almost total identity in all comparisons (k-means, PC analysis), as well as with South Italians. None of these groups are present in this analysis but they should show up pretty much where the main Jewish cluster is.


PC analysis of West Eurasians (fig. 4-A)

K-means clustering (fig. 4-B)

This paper remains to date one of the main and more clear references to understand European genetics at autosomal level and in particular to understand Basque and Jewish affinities or lack of them.

Together with other materials, some of them listed above, the case is clear:
  • Basques are a distinct subgroup of Europeans, though probably akin to some North/NE Iberians and some South/SW French
  • Iberians are also a distinct subgroup to the exclusion of Basques, even if they overlap at times (but not more than they overlap with Eastern Mediterraneans)
  • Jews seem impossible to take apart from other Eastern Mediterraneans (Greeks, Armenians, South Italians, Adigey) but they seem somewhat distinct from Palestinians, meaning they probably coalesced in Anatolia. The fact that Zionist researchers systematically avoid comparing with Turks, Greeks, etc. probably means that they know this is true but want to hide it.
If you still doubt of the distinctiveness of Basques in relation to Iberians, I would recommend to look at this other PC graph from Achilli 2007, even if it is about mtDNA, where the case is very clear even with a very small Basque sample in an ocean of other European and many different Iberian samples. Iberians do look quite diverse anyhow but none of them really clusters with Basques:



Update: Jewish genetic affinity with Turks and Cypriots revealed in the supplementary material.

Someone has sent me a copy of Atzmon's paper and I must correct my previous statement that no Turks were sampled. In fact there is a small sample of Turks and Cypriots which cluster very closely with the main Jewish group (Euro-Turco-Syrian Jews):


I can't tell at the moment if the subgroup that clusters most closely are Turks or Cypriots or a bit of each but that is all what is in the ESE control group. There are also a couple of NW Europeans who also cluster very tightly and are most likely descendant of recently assimilated Jews (maybe in the time of the Holocaust, when some families found that such was their only hope of survival).


Update: Fst distances

Table 1 is pretty interesting, even if it lacks the Turkish/Cypriot sample, in particular the Fst distances. In it, it seems quite obvious that Iranian and, to a lesser extent, Iraqi Jews are different populations from the main Jewish cluster of this study, that I will call hereafter Western Jews (incl. Turkish, Greek, Syrian, Italian and Ashkenazi subgroups). The most representative subgroup of this "Western Jewry" of Hellenistic-Roman origins are probably Turkish Jews (labeled TUR in the study), followed closely by Greek Jews (GRK) and then Syrian, Ashkenazi and Italian Jews.

In order to simplify, I averaged Fst distances within this group, resulting in the following pairwise comparisons with other populations (bold type):

North Italian - 0.006 (0.004) [0.010]
Palestinians - 0.008 (0.005)
French - 0.009 (0.007) [0.014]
Druze - 0.009 (0.007) [0.009]
Iraqi Jews (IRQ) - 0.010 (0.009) [0.010]
Adygei - 0.010 (0.008) [0.012]
Sardinian - 0.012 (0.010) [0.017]
Bedouin - 0.013 (0.010) [0.009]
Iranian Jews (IRN) - 0.016 (0.014) [0.017]
Basques - 0.016 (0.014) [0.021]
Russians - 0.016 (0.014) [0.021]

Figures in regular brackets (...) are Fst pairwise distances with Turkish Jews (TUR) only, while figures in square brackets [...] are distances with Palestinians.

For reference, the average Fst distance between Western Jewish populations with each other is 0.005 (0.004 of Turkish Jews with the other Western Jews on average).

14 comments:

Dienekes said...

Greeks are clearly distinct from Jews (bottom left figure, taken from the supplement; some Greeks are included in the SE group with other Balkan people, and none of them appear to be particularly close to Jews)

http://greekgenetics.blogspot.com/2010/06/blog-post.html

See also from Price et al.

http://dienekes.50webs.com/arp/articles/greekadna/price.jpg

or Tian et al.

http://dienekes.50webs.com/arp/articles/greekadna/tian.jpg

As for my alleged claim that Basques should be genetically identical to all other Iberians, stop imagining things.

manju said...

My understanding is that Ashkenaz were founded by Persian Jews. They should be closely related to Iranians and Kurds. The presence of Y-Haplogroup R2 (<5%) could only be explained by Iranian Jewry. I have seen direct matches between an Iranian Jew and an East European Jew at Y-search database. Also, I have read that Persian Jews migrated to Central Asia and established community there. I suppose from there Ashkenaz originated.

Maju said...

@Dienekes:

Thanks for the link to the supp. material graphs.

I'm presuming that the letters indicate geographical location in Europe, so 'ESE' are Adigey and 'S' are Italians, right?

Now I understand better why Gioello's theory of an Italian founder effect, according to which Jews would be essentially... Romans!

But, notwithstanding that he might be onto something, I still think that there should be a more direct connection with Anatolia and/or Syria. Or maybe they are recycled Armenians/Kurds? There's a systematic blank there that needs to be analyzed and is being ignored all the time.

"As for my alleged claim that Basques should be genetically identical to all other Iberians, stop imagining things".

Maybe it's a misunderstanding but I can only quote your own words:

"The more I learn about Basques, the more I am convinced that they are simply Iberians who picked up their non-IE language while other Iberians picked up Latin. I wouldn't be surprised if the 2k of linguistic separation from Romance speakers may have caused some genetic divergence, but it's clearly not much, and clearly not indicative of any really long process of isolation".

As I said then, I think that the genetic data is pretty solid in support of a clear difference.

Maju said...

@Manju:

The data here doesn't seem to support your hypothesis, with Iranian Jews clustering apart. However it may well be because Ashkenazi have a strong Euro component. Y-DNA in any case can well not be as directly important to overall ancestry, specially in a population that undoubtedly went through very specific and clear founder effects, such Ashkenazi.

Maju said...

Dienekes: someone sent me the paper and that ESE group that so much approximates the main Jewish cluster is made up of Turks and Cypriots.

It's a principle of evidence in support for the Anatolian hypothesis. Very curious. :)

Dienekes said...

The ESE group has a part near the Jews and another part that stands apart. I don't know which part is Cypriot and which part is Turkish.

Maju said...

We are in the same boat in this, Dienekes. But Cypriot or Turk, it is most intriguing in any case. You said it was four the number of Turks and I think it's also four the number of ESE dots clustering along the core Jewish cluster - but not 100% sure.

In the PC1-PC3 they cluster even better (though Western Jews don't cluster so well anymore).

I've been reviewing right now the Fst distances and I'll post a brief update on that now. Iranian and Iraqi Jews are very different from Western Jews on that value (Iranian Jews are as distant as Basques or Russians, the most distinct outgroups, while Iraqi Jews are more average), what doesn't say much in favor of a joint origin.

Palestinians instead are much closer, to Western Jews, though (oddly enough) not more than North Italians and only slightly more than French.

Turkish Jews (followed by Greek Jews at short distance) would seem the most representative population of what we could call "genuine Western Jewishness".

Sadly no "ESE" sample is compared in that figure so I really think that they are sweetening the analysis somewhat because, without preconceptions, this ESE population looks really worth a much more extensive analysis.

Also (important), I suspect that there's a typo in the labeling of Palestinians and Bedouins in the main PC graphs, because in the Fst table, Palestinians are consistently much closer to Jews (and other populations) than Bedouins.

Dienekes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dienekes said...

We are in the same boat in this, Dienekes.

No, we are not. You claim erroneously that "Zionist researchers" avoid comparing Jews with Greeks. I gave you three studies in which that is not the case. You claim erroneously that "Zionist researchers" want to hide the fact that Jews are impossible to tell apart from Greeks and Armenians, while the studies clearly indicate that both Greeks and Armenians are clearly distinguished from Jews.

Your "boat" is one of misinformation in the interest of your politics.

Maju said...

By "in the same boat" I meant that we both ignored at that moment if the subgroup within ESE that clusters here with Western Jews were Turks or Cypriots. Now it seems evident it must be Cypriots.

I don't think we are in the same boat in anything else except for sharing interest in genetics and anthropology (but from very different viewpoints).

Until this past week, research on Jewish ancestry had avoided the key issues I was denouncing. Even in this paper, the striking overlap of Cypriots and Western Jews is hidden into the supplemental material and not addressed on its own merit, which is worth a much more explicit attention.

Finally Behar and company have got the bull by the horns. I have criticized Behar in the past and now I applaud him. I'm really glad that some Israeli researchers are at least somewhat overcoming their preconceptions and fears.

You should do the same.

Maju said...

"Your "boat" is one of misinformation in the interest of your politics".

I am willing to be criticized if that happens to be true. I hope not.

In any case we all have bias and don't dare tell me that you are "apolitical". You have a very clear ultra-right nationalist orientation, bordering fascism if it's not plainly covert fascism (not sure if there's a difference). I still have managed to respect you somewhat because you allow for free discussion, provide useful information and now and then we even agree in something.

I wouldn't mind some reciprocity.

One thing is clear: I am not covert anything: I speak loud and clear. But I would not like my political opinions to muddle my anthropological analysis, specially as I think that this last is pretty much irrelevant, so I welcome constructive criticism.

Thanks for visiting again.

Mooser said...

"Jews seem impossible to take apart from other Eastern Mediterraneans (Greeks, Armenians, South Italians, Adigey) but they seem somewhat distinct"

Can't understand why you say that? I've been at some delightful all-Jewish parties. Sure, I prefer more diverse company most of the time.

Mooser said...

What you people don't seem to understand is that when you become Jewish, you change your genes. At least twice a week.

Maju said...

Jokes apart, Mooser, in genetic analysis at the time it looked to me that way. Today I would have a much more nuanced analysis to share, which points directly to Cyprus and probably parts of Turkey as the most direct relatives of modern Western Jews in terms of autosomal genetics.