Reconstructing Roma History from Genome-Wide Data

Priya Moorjani, Nick Patterson, Po Ru Loh, Mark Lipson, Péter Kisfali, Bela I. Melegh, Michael Bonin, Ľudevít Kádaši, Olaf Rieß, Bonnie Berger, David Reich, Béla Melegh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58633
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 13 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Moorjani, P., Patterson, N., Loh, P. R., Lipson, M., Kisfali, P., Melegh, B. I., Bonin, M., Kádaši, Ľ., Rieß, O., Berger, B., Reich, D., & Melegh, B. (2013). Reconstructing Roma History from Genome-Wide Data. PloS one, 8(3), [e58633].