Genetic analysis of Sephardic ancestry in the Iberian Peninsula
Miguel Martín Álvarez-Álvarez,
Christopher R. Gignoux,
Maria Esther Esteban,
Esteban González Burchard,
Posted 18 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/325779
Posted 18 May 2018
The Sephardim are a major Jewish ethnic division whose origins can be traced back to the Iberian Peninsula. We used genome-wide SNP data to investigate the degree of Sephardic admixture in seven populations from the Iberian Peninsula and surrounding regions in the aftermath of their religious persecution starting in the late 14th century. To this end, we used Eastern Mediterranean (from South Italy, Greece and Israel) and North African (Tunisian and Moroccan) populations as proxies for the major ancestral components found in the target populations and carried out unlinked- and linked-marker analyses on the available genetic data. We report evidence of Sephardic ancestry in some of our Iberian samples, as well as in North Italy and Tunisia. We find the Sephardic admixture to be more recent relative to the Berber admixture following an out-of-Iberia geographic dispersal, suggesting Sephardic gene flow from Spain outwards. We also report some of the challenges in assigning Sephardic ancestry to potentially admixed individuals due to the lack of a clear genetic signature.
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