The genetic history of Italians: new-insights from uniparentally-inherited markers

Sarno, Stefania (2014) The genetic history of Italians: new-insights from uniparentally-inherited markers, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Biodiversità ed evoluzione, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6527.
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Genetic differences among human groups can be ascribed both to the broad-scale extents of pre-historical and historical migrations and to the fine-scale impacts of socio-cultural and geographic heterogeneity. In this thesis, the genetic information provided by uniparental markers were exploited to address different aspects of the Italian population history, by combining macro- and micro-geographic investigations at different spatial and temporal scales. To firstly assess the overall Italian variability, Y-chromosome and mtDNA markers were deeply typed in ~900 individuals from continental Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. Sex-biased patterns and contrasting demographic histories were observed for males and females. Differential European and Mediterranean contributions were invoked to explain the paternal genetic sub-structure observed in peninsular Italy, compared to the homogeneous maternal genetic landscape. If Neolithic showed to be one principal determinant of the detected paternal structure, local insights into specific Italian regional contexts highlighted the importance of Post-Neolithic contributions. Among them, migrations from the Balkans (particularly Greece) during late Metal Ages, played a relevant role in the cultural and genetic transitions occurred in Sicily and Southern Italy. On a finer geographic and temporal perspective, the more recent layers of Italian genetic history and some aspects of the gene-culture interaction were assessed by exploring the genetic variability within two “marginal populations”: Arbereshe of Southern Italy and Partecipanza in Northern Italy. The Arbereshe are Albanian-speaking communities settled in Sicily and Calabria since the end of Middle Ages. Despite sharing common genetic and cultural backgrounds, these groups revealed diverging micro-evolutionary histories, implying different founding events and different patterns of cultural isolation and local admixture. Partecipanza is an idiosyncratic institution of Medieval origin aimed at sharing and devolving collective lands. This case-study exemplified that socio-economic stratification within the same population may induce sex-biased genetic structuring and the maintenance of otherwise hidden historical genetic traces.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Sarno, Stefania
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze biologiche, biomediche e biotecnologiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Genetic structure; Italy; Y-chromosome; mtDNA; haplogroups; micro-evolutionary history; gene-culture interaction; ethno-linguistic minorities; socio-economic factors; Y-STRs mutation rate.
Data di discussione
8 Maggio 2014

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