Iran: tricontinental nexus for Y-chromosome driven migration

Hum Hered. 2006;61(3):132-43. doi: 10.1159/000093774. Epub 2006 Jun 12.


Due to its pivotal geographic position, present day Iran likely served as a gateway of reciprocal human movements. However, the extent to which the deserts within the Iranian plateau and the mountain ranges surrounding Persia inhibited gene flow via this corridor remains uncertain. In order to assess the magnitude of this region's role as a nexus for Africa, Asia and Europe in human migrations, high-resolution Y-chromosome analyses were performed on 150 Iranian males. Haplogroup data were subsequently compared to regional populations characterized at similar phylogenetic levels. The Iranians display considerable haplogroup diversity consistent with patterns observed in populations of the Middle East overall, reinforcing the notion of Persia as a venue for human disseminations. Admixture analyses of geographically targeted, regional populations along the latitudinal corridor spanning from Anatolia to the Indus Valley demonstrated contributions to Persia from both the east and west. However, significant differences were uncovered upon stratification of the gene donors, including higher proportions from central east and southeast Turkey as compared to Pakistan. In addition to the modulating effects of geographic obstacles, culturally mediated amalgamations consistent with the diverse spectrum of a variety of historical empires may account for the distribution of haplogroups and lineages observed. Our study of high-resolution Y-chromosome genotyping allowed for an in-depth analysis unattained in previous studies of the area, revealing important migratory and demographic events that shaped the contemporary genetic landscape.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Y / genetics*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Gene Flow
  • Geography
  • Haplotypes*
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Phylogeny*