In this study we characterize the genetic diversity and relationships between the Shia and Sunni Muslim populations of North India and geographically targeted neighboring and global populations. We examined a number of parameters of population genetic and forensic interest based on the allele frequencies from 15 autosomal STR loci (D8S1179, D21S11, D7S820, CSF1PO, D19S433, VWA, TPOX, D18S51, D3S1358, THO1, D13S317, D16S539, D2S1338, D5S818, and FGA). All the studied loci were consistent with Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, except loci D18S51 and FGA for both Muslim populations, even after applying the Bonferroni correction. The combined power of exclusion and combined power of discrimination values for all 15 STR loci were 0.9999 and >0.99999, respectively, in both Muslim populations. Gene diversity values ranged from 0.6784 (TPOX) to 0.9027 (FGA) for Shia Muslims and from 0.7152 (CSF1PO) to 0.9120 (D18S51) for Sunni Muslims. The observed heterozygosity (Ho) ranged from 0.5833 (D18S51) to 0.8595 (VWA) in Shia Muslims and from 0.6818 (CSF1PO) to 0.8333 (D21S11) in Sunni Muslims and was lower than the expected heterozygosity (He) for 11 out of the 15 STRs typed. We analyzed the genetic affinities of the Shia and Sunni Muslim populations with their geographically closest neighboring North Indian, Middle Eastern, East Asian, and European populations using distance-based methods, including neighbor-joining trees and multidimensional scaling. In addition, we estimated the genetic contribution of the putative parental populations included in the analysis to the Shia and Sunni Muslim gene pool using admixture analysis. Although we observed a certain degree of genetic contribution from Iran to both Muslim populations, the results of the phylogenetic analyses based on autosomal STRs suggest genetic relatedness with some of the geographically closest neighboring Hindu religious populations.
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Vol. 81 • No. 4