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Insight into the genomic history of the Near East from whole-genome sequences and genotypes of Yemenis

By Marc Haber, Riyadh Saif-Ali, Molham Al-Habori, Yuan Chen, Daniel E. Platt, Chris Tyler-Smith, Yali Xue

Posted 29 Aug 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/749341

We report high coverage whole genome sequencing data from 46 Yemeni individuals as well as genome wide genotyping data from 169 Yemenis from diverse locations. We use this dataset to define the genetic diversity in Yemen and how it relates to people elsewhere in the Near East. Yemen is a vast region with substantial cultural and geographic diversity, but we found little genetic structure correlating with geography among the Yemenis, probably reflecting continuous movement of people between the regions. African ancestry from admixture in the past 800 years is widespread in Yemen and is the main contributor to the countrys limited genetic structure, with some individuals in Hudayda and Hadramout having up to 20% of their genetic ancestry from Africa. In contrast, individuals from Maarib appear to have been genetically isolated from the African gene flow and thus have genomes likely to reflect Yemens ancestry before the admixture. This ancestry was comparable to the ancestry present during the Bronze Age in the distant Northern regions of the Near East. After the Bronze Age, the South and North of the Near East therefore followed different genetic trajectories: in the North the Levantines admixed with a Eurasian population carrying steppe ancestry whose impact never reached as far south as the Yemen, where people instead admixed with Africans leading to the genetic structure observed in the Near East today.

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