Saturday, May 9, 2015
The time and place of European gene flow into Ashkenazi Jews
It looks like we're about to see yet another paper on the origins of Ashkenazi Jews. A poster on the topic was presented this week at the Biology of Genomes conference, and is available for download here.
It's a very reasonable effort, perhaps the best one so far. However, I'm of the opinion that the genetic structure of the Near East has changed significantly since the Neolithic. If that's correct, then using modern samples from the Near East to estimate Near Eastern ancestry in Ashkenazi Jews might not work too well.
For instance, let's assume, just for the sake of argument, that ~2,000 years ago the Levant was home to a population genetically almost indistinguishable from present-day Cretans. This might mean that Ashkenazi Jews are much less than 50% European. But we won't know until we see some ancient DNA from the Near East, including from the remains of early Jews.
James Xue, Itsik Pe’er, and Shai Carmi, The time and place of European gene flow into Ashkenazi Jews, Biology of Genomes 2015 poster presentation.