The genetic variation in the R1a clade among the Ashkenazi Levites' y chromosome

Doron M. Behar, Lauri Saag, Monika Karmin, Meir G. Gover, Jeffrey D. Wexler, Luisa Fernanda Sanchez, Elliott Greenspan, Alena Kushniarevich, Oleg Davydenko, Hovhannes Sahakyan, Levon Yepiskoposyan, Alessio Boattini, Stefania Sarno, Luca Pagani, Shai Carmi, Shay Tzur, Ene Metspalu, Concetta Bormans, Karl Skorecki, Mait MetspaluSiiri Rootsi, Richard Villems

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Approximately 300,000 men around the globe self-identify as Ashkenazi Levites, of whom two thirds were previously shown to descend from a single male. The paucity of whole Y-chromosome sequences precluded conclusive identification of this ancestor's age, geographic origin and migration patterns. Here, we report the variation of 486 Y-chromosomes within the Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Levite R1a clade, other Ashkenazi Jewish paternal lineages, as well as non-Levite Jewish and non-Jewish R1a samples. Cumulatively, the emerging profile is of a Middle Eastern ancestor, self-affiliating as Levite, and carrying the highly resolved R1a-Y2619 lineage, which was likely a minor haplogroup among the Hebrews. A star-like phylogeny, coalescing similarly to other Ashkenazi paternal lineages, ~1,743 ybp, suggests it to be one of the Ashkenazi paternal founders; to have expanded as part of the overall Ashkenazi demographic expansion, without special relation to the Levite affiliation; and to have subsequently spread to non-Ashkenazi Levites.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14969
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

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© 2017 The Author(s).


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