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'Previous genetic studies of blood group and serum markers suggested that Jewish groups had Middle Eastern origin with greater genetic similarity between paired Jewish populations,' says senior study author, Dr. 'More recent studies of Y chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA have pointed to founder effects of both Middle Eastern and local origin, yet, the issue of how to characterize Jewish people as mere coreligionists or as genetic isolates that may be closely or loosely related remained unresolved. Yet the genomes of the Jewish Diaspora groups have distinctive features that are representative of each group's genetic history.' says Dr. 'Our study demonstrated that the studied Jewish populations represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters with genetic threads that weave them together,' added Dr. The researchers identified distinct Jewish population clusters that each exhibited a shared Middle Eastern ancestry, proximity to contemporary Middle Eastern populations and variable degrees of European and North African genetic intermingling. The two major groups, Middle Eastern Jews and European Jews, were timed to have diverged from each other approximately 2500 years ago.

Southern European populations show the greatest proximity to Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Italian Jews, reflecting the large-scale southern European conversion and admixture known to have occurred over 2,000 years ago during the formation of the European Jewry. Ostrer noted, 'The study supports the idea of a Jewish people linked by a shared genetic history.

Researchers in New York and Tel Aviv conducted a genome-wide analysis on 237 individuals from seven well-established Jewish communities around the world, hailing from Iran, Iraq, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria and eastern Europe.

The team then compared these genetic profiles to those of non-Jews in the same geographic regions based on data from the Human Genome Diversity Project....

Thus, this study demonstrates that European/Syrian and Middle Eastern Jews represent a series of geographical isolates or clusters woven together by shared IBD genetic threads." "The genetic, cultural and religious traditions of contemporary Jewish people originated in the Middle East over three thousand years ago.

Since that time, Jewish communities have migrated from the Middle East into Europe, North Africa and across the world. This study shows that although Jewish people experienced genetic mixing with surrounding populations, they retained a genetic coherence along with a religious one.

Two major groups were identified by principal component, phylogenetic, and identity by descent (IBD) analysis: Middle Eastern Jews and European/Syrian Jews.

An apparent North African ancestry component was also observed as was present in the Sephardic groups potentially reflecting gene flow from Moorish to Jewish populations in Spain from 711 to 1492. Yet the admixture with European people explains why so many European and Syrian Jews have blue eyes and blonde hair.'" Razib Khan.

"Genetics and the Jews." Discover Magazine - Gene Expression (June 6, 2010). "Two Major Groups of Living Jews." dienekes.(June 3, 2010). Jews worldwide share genetic ties: But analysis also reveals close links to Palestinians and Italians." (June 3, 2010).

"Signatures of founder effects, admixture, and selection in the Ashkenazi Jewish population." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) 1 (September 14, 2010): pages 16222-16227. Among the comparative populations were 1705 continental Europeans and 1251 European-Americans.

Recent reports have reaffirmed that the AJ population has a common Middle Eastern origin with other Jewish Diaspora populations, but also suggest that the AJ population, compared with other Jews, has had the most European admixture.

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