From Social to Genetic Structures in Central Asia

Raphaëlle Chaix, Lluís Quintana-Murci, Tatyana Hegay, Michael F. Hammer, Zahra Mobasher, Frédéric Austerlitz, Evelyne Heyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pastoral and farmer populations, who have coexisted in Central Asia since the fourth millennium B.C. [1], present not only different lifestyles and means of subsistence but also various types of social organization. Pastoral populations are organized into so-called descent groups (tribes, clans, and lineages) and practice exogamous marriages (a man chooses a bride in a different lineage or clan). In Central Asia, these descent groups are patrilineal: The children are systematically affiliated with the descent groups of the father. By contrast, farmer populations are organized into families (extended or nuclear) and often establish endogamous marriages with cousins [2-4]. This study aims at better understanding the impact of these differences in lifestyle and social organization on the shaping of genetic diversity. We show that pastoral populations exhibit a substantial loss of Y chromosome diversity in comparison to farmers but that no such a difference is observed at the mitochondrial-DNA level. Our analyses indicate that the dynamics of patrilineal descent groups, which implies different male and female sociodemographic histories, is responsible for these sexually-asymmetric genetic patterns. This molecular signature of the pastoral social organization disappears over a few centuries only after conversion to an agricultural way of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 9 2007

Keywords

  • EVO_ECOL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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    Chaix, R., Quintana-Murci, L., Hegay, T., Hammer, M. F., Mobasher, Z., Austerlitz, F., & Heyer, E. (2007). From Social to Genetic Structures in Central Asia. Current Biology, 17(1), 43-48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2006.10.058