The druze: A population genetic refugium of the Near East

Liran I. Shlush, Doron M. Behar, Guennady Yudkovsky, Alan Templeton, Yarin Hadid, Fuad Basis, Michael Hammer, Shalev Itzkovitz, Karl Skorecki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2105
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 May 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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