A genetic contribution from the Far East into Ashkenazi Jews via the ancient Silk Road

Jiao Yang Tian, Hua Wei Wang, Yu Chun Li, Wen Zhang, Yong Gang Yao, Jits Van Straten, Martin B. Richards, Qing Peng Kong

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Abstract

Contemporary Jews retain a genetic imprint from their Near Eastern ancestry, but obtained substantial genetic components from their neighboring populations during their history. Whether they received any genetic contribution from the Far East remains unknown, but frequent communication with the Chinese has been observed since the Silk Road period. To address this issue, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation from 55,595 Eurasians are analyzed. The existence of some eastern Eurasian haplotypes in eastern Ashkenazi Jews supports an East Asian genetic contribution, likely from Chinese. Further evidence indicates that this connection can be attributed to a gene flow event that occurred less than 1.4 kilo-years ago (kya), which falls within the time frame of the Silk Road scenario and fits well with historical records and archaeological discoveries. This observed genetic contribution from Chinese to Ashkenazi Jews demonstrates that the historical exchange between Ashkenazim and the Far East was not confined to the cultural sphere but also extended to an exchange of genes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8377
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2015

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    Tian, J. Y., Wang, H. W., Li, Y. C., Zhang, W., Yao, Y. G., Van Straten, J., Richards, M. B., & Kong, Q. P. (2015). A genetic contribution from the Far East into Ashkenazi Jews via the ancient Silk Road. Scientific Reports, 5, [8377]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep08377