From observations of lack of haplotype sharing based on Y-chromosome specific short tandem repeat (STR) loci, previous reports suggested negligible gene flow among different geographic populations of India. Using Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) sites in combination with STRs, we observed evidence of haplotype sharing across caste-tribe boundaries in South India. We examined 27 SNPs in the non-recombining region of the Y chromosome to investigate gene flow in 204 individuals belonging to three caste groups (Vizag Brahmins, Peruru Brahmins, Kammas), three tribes (Bagata, Poroja, Valmiki) and an additional group (the Siddis) of African ancestry. Principal component and AMOVA analyses show that the between group component of variation is non-significant (P>0.05), while that among populations within the caste and tribal groups is significant (P<0.001). In particular, the Valmikis and Siddis are close to the caste groups. Of a total of 11 distinct SNP-haplotypes observed, the two tribal groups (Bagata and Poroja) lack the haplotypes H4, H4A, H5A and H16, which are seen in the caste groups. In contrast, all three tribal groups exhibit the Southeast Asian haplotype H11 that is absent in the caste populations. The presence of haplotypes H4, H5, H14, and H16 in the Siddis indicate that they have assimilated considerable non-African admixture. The evidence of haplotype sharing between castes and tribes is also found when the H14 lineage was further subdivided by five STR loci. We conclude that even though these SNP-based Y-haplotypes are able to distinguish the populations, gene flow in these South Indian populations is not as negligible as that inferred from other studies based on Y-specific short tandem repeat markers.
- Caste and tribes of South India
- Gene flow
- Y-specific SNP haplotypes