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Tracing Jewish roots

Genome study helps map Diaspora, highlights how heritages blended

By
2:42pm, June 3, 2010

Scientists taking a genomewide view of ancestry have traced the genetic roots of seven Jewish groups.

The study examines genetic markers spread across the entire genome — the complete set of genetic instructions for making a human — and shows that the Jewish groups share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships. Comparison with genetic data from non-Jewish groups indicates that all the Jewish groups originated in the Middle East. From there, groups of Jews moved to other parts of the world in migrations collectively known as the Diaspora.

Maps of those migrations were inscribed in the DNA in the form of genetic signatures of local people Jews interbred with as they moved. Today, contemporary Jews carry evidence of their Middle Eastern origin along with genetic heritage from European and North African ancestors.

“I like to think of relatedness as a tapestry, and these shared segments [of DNA] are threads in the tapestry,”

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