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In addition, analyses of disease-related genes of higher prevalence in the Ashkenazi Jewish population indicate that only a minority of traits show signs of positive selection, suggesting that most have arisen through random genetic drift.[...] 'We were surprised to find evidence that Ashkenazi Jews have higher heterozygosity than Europeans, contradicting the widely-held presumption that they have been a largely isolated group,' says first author Steven Bray, Ph D, a postdoctoral fellow in Warren's laboratory. "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.

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The genomic analysis also provided information about selection pressures on mutations prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population, such as those leading to conditions like Tay-Sachs disease or mutations in cancer susceptibility genes like BRCA1.

[...]" Gil Atzmon, Li Hao, Itsik Pe'er, Christopher Velez, Alexander Pearlman, Pier Francesco Palamara, Bernice Morrow, Eitan Friedman, Carole Oddoux, Edward Burns, Harry Ostrer.

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....

"Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry." The American Journal of Human Genetics 86:6 (June 3, 2010): pages 850-859.

Abstract: "For more than a century, Jews and non-Jews alike have tried to define the relatedness of contemporary Jewish people.'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.[...] Consistent with recent reports (13, 20, 23-25), principal component analysis (PCA) using these combined datasets confirmed that the AJ individuals cluster distinctly from Europeans, aligning closest to Southern European populations along the first principal component, suggesting a more southern origin, and aligning with Central Europeans along the second, consistent with migration to this region (Fig.S1)." Excerpts from page 16223: "The higher diversity in the AJ population was paralleled by a lower inbreeding coefficient, F, indicating the AJ population is more outbred than Europeans, not inbred, as has long been assumed (P "Through genomic analysis, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have shown that the Ashkenazi Jewish population is genetically more diverse than people of European descent, despite previous assumptions that Ashkenazi Jews have been an isolated population.Family Tree DNA: Genetic Testing Service Get genetically tested to discover your relationship to other families, other Jews, and other ethnic groups. Abstract: "The Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population has long been viewed as a genetic isolate, yet it is still unclear how population bottlenecks, admixture, or positive selection contribute to its genetic structure.

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