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Thread: North African Jewish and non-Jewish populations form distinctive, orthogonal clusters

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    North African Jewish and non-Jewish populations form distinctive, orthogonal clusters

    New study out yesterday. Campbell et al. 2012: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/31/1204840109





    News article describing the significance of the findings: http://esciencenews.com/articles/201...wish.diasporas

    A new genetic analysis focusing on Jews from North Africa has provided an overall genetic map of the Jewish Diasporas. The findings support the historical record of Middle Eastern Jews settling in North Africa during Classical Antiquity, proselytizing and marrying local populations, and, in the process, forming distinct populations that stayed largely intact for more than 2,000 years. The study, led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, was published online August 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Our new findings define North African Jews, complete the overall population structure for the various groups of the Jewish Diaspora, and enhance the case for a biological basis for Jewishness," said study leader Harry Ostrer, M.D., professor of pathology, of genetics and of pediatrics at Einstein and director of genetic and genomic testing for the division of clinical pathology at Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Ostrer noted that obtaining a comprehensive genetic fingerprint of various Jewish subpopulations can help reveal genetic links to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other common diseases.

    In a previous genetic analysis, the researchers showed that modern-day Sephardic (Greek and Turkish), Ashkenazi (Eastern European) and Mizrahi (Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian) Jews that originated in Europe and the Middle East are more related to each other than to their contemporary non-Jewish neighbors, with each group forming its own cluster within the larger Jewish population. Further, each group demonstrated Middle-Eastern ancestry and varying degrees of mixing with surrounding populations. Two of the major Jewish populations -- Middle Eastern and European Jews -- were found to have diverged from each other approximately 2,500 years ago.

    The current study extends that analysis to North African Jews -- the second largest Jewish Diaspora group. Their relatedness to each other, to other Jewish Diaspora groups, and to their non-Jewish North African neighbors had not been well defined. The study also included members of Jewish communities in Ethiopia, Yemen and Georgia. In all, the researchers analyzed the genetic make-up of 509 Jews from 15 populations along with genetic data on 114 individuals from seven North African non-Jewish populations.

    North African Jews exhibited a high degree of endogamy, or marriage within their own religious and cultural group in accordance with custom. Two major subgroups within this overall population were identified: Moroccan/Algerian Jews and Djerban (Tunisian)/Libyan Jews. The two subgroups varied in their degree of European mixture, with Moroccan/Algerian Jews tending to be more related to Europeans -- most likely stemming from the expulsion of Sephardic Jews from Spain during the Inquisition, starting in 1492. Ethiopian and Yemenite Jewish populations also formed distinctive genetically linked clusters, as did Georgian Jews.

    The research was supported by grants from the Lewis and Rachel Rudin Foundation; the Iranian-American Jewish Federation of New York; the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation; National Cancer Institute (CA121852) of the National Institutes of Health; and Ruth and Sidney Lapidus.

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    Thanks for the link. Was the study limited to an autosomal analysis or did it also look at yDNA and mtDNA?

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    Autosomal only, unfortunately.

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    If any of you know some fairly in-depth mtDNA study on North Africans, you should share it here, since there is one which covered North African Jews fairly well. In terms of Y-DNA, we have overall a fairly rough idea.

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    Even if this autosomal study found that North African Jews (Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians and Libyans) were more closely related to each other and to European and Middle Eastern Jews than to their non-Jewish host populations, their North African ancestry is quite big at 20%. This explains why French Maghrebi Jews have, generally, a phenotype very similar to other non-Jewish Maghrebis.

    Ancestry estimated by the study :

    * Middle Eastern : 40-42%.
    * European : 37-39%
    * North African : 20-21%

    "Fig. 5. Ancestry deconvolution. The genome-wide ancestry of North African Jewish and non-Jewish populations is compared with respect to European (Basque), Maghrebi (Tunisian non-Jewish), and Middle Eastern (Palestinian) origins. Jewish populations exhibit increased European and decreased Maghrebi ancestry compared with corresponding non-Jewish groups. The Middle Eastern component is comparable across all groups."



    For comparison, 20% of North African ancestry is even bigger than what was found by Botigué et al 2013 in the Iberian Peninsula (15% of North African ancestry in Western Iberians):

    Southwestern European populations average between 4% and 20% of their genomes assigned to a North African ancestral cluster (SI Appendix, Fig. S3), whereas this value does not exceed 2% in southeastern European populations”.

    The highest level of North African ancestry (20%) was found in the Canary Islands while in the Iberian Peninsula it ranged from 4% to 15% (see Fig. S3 below from left to right : Canary Islands, Portugal, Galicia, Andalucia, Spain Central, Spain Basque).

    Last edited by E_M81_I3A; 03-27-2016 at 03:45 PM.
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    Y Dna: E-M81-->CTS12227-->BY8900 : The oldest M81 known are Guanches 2000 BP
    MtDna: I3a1 : The oldest I3a1 known is VK164, Viking from Oxford, UK, 880-1000 CE.


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    What components is Maghrebi ancestry made of anyway? I would assume some sort of West African-ENF hybrid population, or maybe even a WHG-ENF_West African component but that's just me guessing based on Berber DNA composition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rz1706 View Post
    their North African ancestry is quite big at 20%. This explains why French Maghrebis Jews have a phenotype very similar to other Maghrebis.
    Well, it was already known for a while that some North African Jews had a significant amount of local ancestry. But I think it varies a lot, from probably 0% and up to the double digits in some populations, in line with the diverse provenance of Jews in the region. Some Jews can indeed overlap with Maghrebis in terms of superficial looks, but I don't think North African ancestry is the only reason (I swear some Ashkenazis have look-alikes in the Maghreb).

    Also, the Palestinian reference is a poor choice which probably inflates Basque-like thus European ancestry in Western Jews.


    Quote Originally Posted by nee4speed111 View Post
    What components is Maghrebi ancestry made of anyway? I would assume some sort of West African-ENF hybrid population, or maybe even a WHG-ENF_West African component but that's just me guessing based on Berber DNA composition.
    It's much more complex than that. The non-Eurasian/African part is not just affiliated with West-Central African, but also with East Africa. Even these two African categories are probably just an oversimplification of a much more diverse African influence (which probably applies to Egyptians as well by the way).

    The Eurasian part is mostly ENF-like/South-West Asian like. Apart from that, there should logically be some genuine WHG affinity and maybe in some cases a CHG-like that doesn't have any ANE influence.
    But this is just based on a few Eurasian aDNA samples, which might end up being not directly related to the genesis of North Africans (maybe the similarity of Berbers to EEF and Anatolian Neolithics is just coincidental, just like the similarity of Western Jews with Sicilians).
    Last edited by Ignis90; 03-27-2016 at 03:50 PM.
    Paternal Y-DNA haplogroup: E-M35>E-Z827>L19>M81>M183
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    At 23andMe, I share with some North African Jews from France.

    As, contrary to Ashkenazis or Iberians for example who have their local component at 23andme which makes their ancestry analysis not very usefull at population level, there is, for now, no local component for North African Jews, so it is possible to see the North African contribution which ranges between 30 and 50%.

    Here are 6 North African Jews profiles :






    Last edited by E_M81_I3A; 03-27-2016 at 06:53 PM.
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    Y Dna: E-M81-->CTS12227-->BY8900 : The oldest M81 known are Guanches 2000 BP
    MtDna: I3a1 : The oldest I3a1 known is VK164, Viking from Oxford, UK, 880-1000 CE.


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    I think North African Jews descend from Roman Jews who were settled in North African cities by the Romans. In Morocco they were settled in Volubilis the main Roman town but also in the harbors like Salae. Volubilis would become Fes which is to this day still the main Jewish town in Morocco. In the meantime , Jews absorbed Berber ancestry as the Berber were quite Jewish-friendly. More Jews settled in rural areas and some reached the Atlas mountains where they married into Berbers and founded new Berber-Israelite colonies. In the 15th centurion there was a large influx of Jews from Spain especially in the main urban centers like Fes and Tetouan. The less North African admixture a Morocan Jew have the more Spanish-Jewish ancestry , this would aplly to other North African Jews. Meanwhile the Berber Jews of the mountains were not affected much by such influx from Spain.


    Some Berbers wer said to have converted to Judaism : but what most likely happened is that some Christian-Jewish syncretism spread around the Mediterranean and as far as in Ethiopia (Falasha?) which created spiritual bounds between Jews , early Christians and the Pagans interested in converting either to Christian or Jewish faith. This period would have lasted sometime (maybe longer in some parts of North Africa and Ethiopia) and then faded out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nee4speed111 View Post
    What components is Maghrebi ancestry made of anyway? I would assume some sort of West African-ENF hybrid population, or maybe even a WHG-ENF_West African component but that's just me guessing based on Berber DNA composition.
    There was an interesting Genetic Analysis of North African Populations by DnaTribes in 2012, especially because they analysed the populations excluding admixture from the North African region that includes these populations. Data, except for Mozabites, are from Henn et al., 2012 study.

    "Regional admixture components in several North African populations (excluding North African admixture) were quantified using autosomal SNP data. Results are summarized in Table 2 and illustrated in Figure 3."





    Discussion: Results in Table 2 indicate that excluding North African admixture, the largest admixture component for sampled North African populations was from the Arabian region (average 60.3%). This region includes populations of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and the Levant. The pattern of Arabian admixture is consistent with periodic North African links with the Near East via the Southern Mediterranean coast (such as Phoenician migrations) and via the Sahara Desert (such as Arab migrations). Results also indicated an Atlantic European component for all studied populations. This was largest in North Morocco (27.2%) and Tunisia (23.4%). Although based on separate SNP analysis, this Atlantic European component is similar to the more specific Portuguese genetic link identified based on STR data (see previous section). This Atlantic European admixture might express ancient contacts between North Africa and the West Mediterranean dating to the prehistoric Iberomaurusian and Capsian cultures, as well as Phoenician and Moorish links with Southwest Europe in later periods. In addition, results identified Horn of Africa (average 8.5%) and West African (average 13.3%) components. These were most pronounced for the South Moroccan population, but were found for all studied North African populations. This suggests consistent patterns of contact between North Africa and Sub-Saharan regions, possibly dating to early periods such as the Capsian culture that was in contact with East Africa during the “Green Sahara” period.
    Last edited by E_M81_I3A; 03-27-2016 at 10:13 PM.
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    Y Dna: E-M81-->CTS12227-->BY8900 : The oldest M81 known are Guanches 2000 BP
    MtDna: I3a1 : The oldest I3a1 known is VK164, Viking from Oxford, UK, 880-1000 CE.


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