Background: Phylogenetic mitochondrial DNA haplogroups are highly partitioned across global geographic regions. A unique exception is the X haplogroup, which has a widespread global distribution without major regions of distinct localization. Principal Findings: We have examined mitochondrial DNA sequence variation together with Y-chromosome-based haplogroup structure among the Druze, a religious minority with a unique socio-demographic history residing in the Near East. We observed a striking overall pattern of heterogeneous parental origins, consistent with Druze oral tradition, together with both a high frequency and a high diversity of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) X haplogroup within a confined regional subpopulation. Furthermore demographic modeling indicated low migration rates with nearby populations. Conclusions: These findings were enabled through the use of a paternal kindred based sampling approach, and suggest that the Galilee Druze represent a population isolate, and that the combination of a high frequency and diversity of the mtDNA X haplogroup signifies a phylogenetic refugium, providing a sample snapshot of the genetic landscape of the Near East prior to the modern age.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)