Genetics: “Iranians least similar to Europeans or other Near-Easterners”

An Iranian genetic expert made some remarks about my DNA test results. I think you may find it interesting too, in terms of learning about genetic geneology. Thank you Arash. I’m regaining my interest in this subject after initial disappointment in not seeing any Iranian connection. Here’s what he had to say:

I am the administrator of the Iranian Y-DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

Your first post does not reveal much about the tests you have taken so far. One of the users stated you belong to Y-DNA haplogroup Q. As far as I can gather, you must have also taken the full-genomic DNA test, made evident by the matches you have with Europe.

Your lack of Iranian matches is explained by the lack of Iranians. It’s as simple as that. The majority of customers tend to be middle-class European Americans. I am not familiar with FTDNA’s autosomal DNA services, but am a customer of 23andMe’s, where there are currently well over 40 Iranians already registered and sharing genomes.

Y-DNA haplogroup Q is not necessarily Central Asian. Most of the haplogroup Q observed in Iran belongs to two distinct subclades: Q1a2*-M25 and Q1b-M378. Q1a2* appears to be distinctly Near-Eastern and has been observed in Turkey and Lebanon. Q1b was found in Pakistan, as well as in Ashkenazi Jews.

In contrast, Altaic speakers (Koreans, Hazaras and Dungans) were found to carry Q1a1-M20.

I stress skepticism in reading material on haplogroup Q from unlisted sources (such as Internet forums) as the lineage is erroneously listed as “Altaic/Turkic”, particularly by revisionist Pan-Turanist Turks.

I am interested in learning more about your case and would appreciate details.

Should anyone wish to contact me concerning my work as administrator or enquire about testing, please contact me at dmxx [underscore] dna [at] hotmail [dot] [co] [dot] [uk].

I will examine your results once FTDNA has completed their maintannence (currently down).

Regarding the Ashkenazi matches; given their endogamous (i.e. tight-knit) family structure and preeminence in the United States, people of European ancestry (such as yourself) usually score well with them. This simply means you share some European ancestry with them, as opposed to Jewish.

I’d also like to add a rebuttal against Ali P.’s point concerning Iran’s genetic landscape.

While Iran is a linguistically diverse nation, it is surprising to note that Iranians form a tighter genetic cluster with one another than Assyrians, Armenians or Turks do.

Together with a close Assyrian-Iranian associate of mine, we compared Iranians, Assyrians, Armenians and Anatolian Turks, five each of “pure” stock, against a static set of European, Asian and Near-Eastern samples based on 23andMe’s Compare Genomes feature.

We discovered the Iranians did not overlap with the others, but they (Assyrians, Armenians, Turks) all did with each other. We also concluded Iranians were genetically the least similar to Europeans and other Near-Easterners, which is in line with history, as Persia was never conquered by the Roman (and later Byzantine) empire. Thus, gene flow from Europe to Iran was never consistent at any point in history.

The Iranians used for ths comparison were of the following backgrounds:

– Azeri-Iranian (north of Tabriz) and Persian (Tehran)
– Azeri-Iranian (unknown)
– Persian (Tehran, possible Azeri roots)
– Lori, Gilaki, Persian
– Khuzestani, Tehrani

Despite the diverse sample backgrounds, the Iranian intra-group closeness was greater than the Assyrian, Armenian or Turkish ones.

Furthermore, I’d like to add that autosomal genetic testing can confirm or deny oral traditions that may exist in an Iranian’s family.

My motivation to research genetic genealogy came from a family tree my late grandfather produced, where he determined we were “Iranians from outside Iran” and came from further north in the Caucasus.

Not only do we carry a Y-Chromosome that is found more frequently in Ossetians, Georgian Kurds, Mazandaranis, Balochis, Uzbek Tajiks and Shugnani Tajiks, but I match North Caucasians (Adyghe and Circassians) far better than other Iranians. Clearly, my family’s oral tradition was a tangible fact, not fable.

For this reason – An admittedly selfish one! – I encourage all Iranians who are interested to learn the truth about their deep roots to contact me if there’s even a flicker of interest. 

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