Indian Jews have overwhelmingly South Asian ancestry: Study

Hyderabad: The Indian Jewish community carries “overwhelmingly” South Asian ancestry with a “minor proportion” of the Middle Eastern genes, according to a study conducted by the scientists of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) here and others.

“To trace the origin and mixture of Indian Jewish populations, the researchers have analysed the DNA of Indian Jewish using high resolution genetic markers and compared them with native Indian populations and people from rest of the world,” an official release quoted Ch. Mohan Rao, Director, CCMB, as saying.

The analysissuggests that the Indian Jewish possesses traces of Middle Eastern ancestry together with more likely unidirectional gene flow from their contemporary Indian populations, the release stated.

“Interestingly, the Indian Jewish carry overwhelmingly South Asian ancestry and the proportion of Middle Eastern genetic ancestry was minor. The analyses of autosomal data revealed a high level of heterogeneity among the Indian Jewish groups and their closeness with the local neighbours.

“However, sharing of specific maternally inherited mtDNA and paternally inherited Y-chromosomal haplogroups between all the studied Indian Jewish and lack of them among other local Indian populations can be seen as a remnant of a shared ancestry with Middle Eastern population,” it said.

The team also estimated that the first migrant Jewish entered to Indian subcontinent (Cochin) about 1500 years ago.

CCMB under CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) has been conducting basic research in frontier areas of modern biology and is engaged in finding out the genetic links of several populations under one of its research programmes, Population Genetics.

“The origin and migration of ‘Jewish diaspora’has been curious among people across the world. Although the genetic studies on European Jewish have traced to Middle East, the exact parental population group and time of dispersal of Indian Jewish has remained disputed.

“The Jewish communities are distributed throughout the world, however, of all the Jewish diaspora community, Indian Jewish are among the least studied,” the release stated.