The Roma people, living throughout Europe and West Asia, are a diverse population linked by the Romani language and culture. Previous linguistic and genetic studies have suggested that the Roma migrated into Europe from South Asia about 1,000-1,500 years ago. Genetic inferences about Roma history have mostly focused on the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. To explore what additional information can be learned from genome-wide data, we analyzed data from six Roma groups that we genotyped at hundreds of thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We estimate that the Roma harbor about 80% West Eurasian ancestry-derived from a combination of European and South Asian sources-and that the date of admixture of South Asian and European ancestry was about 850 years before present. We provide evidence for Eastern Europe being a major source of European ancestry, and North-west India being a major source of the South Asian ancestry in the Roma. By computing allele sharing as a measure of linkage disequilibrium, we estimate that the migration of Roma out of the Indian subcontinent was accompanied by a severe founder event, which appears to have been followed by a major demographic expansion after the arrival in Europe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)