HyderabadL Decoding the genetic secret of Maharashtrians, the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has found that the populations in Maharashtra have a closer affinity with South Indian than with the Central Indian populations.
The CCMB analysis suggested that Indian populations, including Maharashtra state, are largely derived from Palaeolithic ancient settlers. However, a more recent (about 10,000 years older) detectable paternal gene flow from west Asia is well reflected in the Maharashtra populations.
The CCMB findings reveal movement of populations to Maharashtra through the western coast rather than mainland where Western Ghats-Vindhya mountains and Narmada-Tapti rivers might have acted as a natural barrier. "Comparing the Maharastrian populations with other South Asian populations reveals that they have a closer affinity with the South Indian than with the Central Indian populations," points out senior scientist Dr K Thangaraj.
The geographical position of Maharashtra state makes it rather essential to study the dispersal of modern humans in South Asia. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the cultural, linguistic and geographical affinity of the populations living in Maharashtra state with other South Asian populations.
The genetic origin of populations living in this state is poorly understood and hitherto been described at low molecular resolution level. The geographical location of Maharashtra state makes it quite
interesting to study the dispersal of modern humans in South Asia. Besides harbouring such an important geographical position in Indian subcontinent, the origin and migration of several populations living in various regions in Maharashtra and their affinity with other contemporary South Asian population has not been explored, so far, at the high resolution level.
CCMB believes that Maharashtra works as a bridge among central, northern and southern parts of India and might give some clues for the peopling of Indian subcontinent, placing it on the way of coastal route migration.
The CCMB team analysed the control-regions and partial coding-region sequence variations of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA which denotes maternal lineage)and 20 Y-SNP and 17 Y-STR
markers of Y chromosome (male lineage) in two tribal populations (Mahadeo-Koli and Thakur) inhabited in westernmost coastal region of India and compared the results with the available data on contemporary
The CCMB work not only help to further understand the phylogenetic position of Maharashtra state in South Asia but also provide deeper insights into the origin of Western Ghat populations.