Genetically Southern European

May 31, 2017

Genetic studies on Italians often say that Northerners are "closer" to Central and Northern Europeans while Southerners are "closer" to Middle Easterners and North Africans. Technically that's true because of simple geography, but it's misleading because it makes it seem like they cluster with those distant populations, which is false. All Italians cluster with other populations from Southern Europe.

This new study is mainly about Peloponnesean Greeks and how they haven't changed much since ancient times, but they also happen to be the group of Greeks who are genetically closest to Southern Italians. In addition to 5 Italian samples from all over the country, the study also has a large sample of Spaniards (including Andalusians from the south), who are genetically closest to Northern Italians.

Confirming many other studies, this PCA plot shows that the Italian samples — Lombards (labeled "Italians"), Venetians, Tuscans (including "TSI"), and Sicilians — cluster in a North-to-South cline between the Spanish and Greek samples, i.e. Southwestern and Southeastern Europe on the map. (Sardinians, as always, are outliers because of their almost purely Neolithic farmer ancestry.)


In these plots, with the Peloponnesean Greeks (in red) acting as a proxy for the southernmost Italians (and therefore all Italians and Southern Europeans in general), we can see that they're genetically distinct from all non-European populations of Western Eurasia, North Africa and beyond.


Supplementary Figure 2: Comparisons of Peloponneseans with non-European populations. PCA analysis of Peloponneseans and A. Near East. B. Caucasus. C. North Africa. D. East Africa. E. Arabia. F. West Siberia populations.


Stamatoyannopoulos et al. "Genetics of the peloponnesean populations and the theory of extinction of the medieval peloponnesean Greeks". Eur J Hum Genet, 2017.

5 comments

Onur Dinçer said...

Genetic studies on Italians often say that Northerners are "closer" to Central and Northern Europeans while Southerners are "closer" to Middle Easterners and North Africans. Technically that's true because of simple geography, but it's misleading because it makes it seem like they cluster with those distant populations, which is false."

It is genetically true as well. But that does not mean Northern Italians cluster with Northern Europeans nor Southern Europeans with Middle Easterners or North Africans on a West Eurasian scale.

All Italians cluster with other populations from Southern Europe.

Well, Northern Italians are genetically fairly close to non-Basque Southern French, so it would be misleading to talk about Southern Europe as a genetically homogeneous entity.

Kyle Reese said...

Northern Italians cluster with Iberians and French.

Southern Italians cluster with Greeks.

Both are Southern Euro genetically and culturally. Only lunatics in the WEB think Northern Italians look like Vikings.

Italianthro said...

@Onur Dinçer

I said it's genetically true because of geography. Learn how to read.

Northern Italians are closer to Spaniards than to French, and anyway Southern France could be considered as being in Southern Europe, so I don't know what your point is.

mooreisbetter said...

I have two observations:

1. I surely cannot be the only person who sees subtle biases or agendas in studies. We see studies by proud Hellenic scientists debunking the myth that the Ancient Greeks were replaced by Slavs during Ottoman times. We see studies by proud Israeli scientists debunking the myth that modern Jews don't have sufficient connections to the Mid East. That is all well and good. Sometimes though I get a little upset at the studies from Northern Italians, Celtic descendants all, who focus on the "otherness" of Southern Italians. It's really depressing. Northern Italians have this psychological need to differentiate themselves from southerners because people give all Italians grief about perceived Southern Italian criminality. Very sad.

2. I think generally, people underestimate the amount of gene flow FROM Italy to other regions that occurred in Roman times. From the time of the late Roman Republic through early Imperial times -- hundreds of years -- Southern Italians formed the bulk of the Roman army, and also served as mercenaries in foreign armies. Merchants, colonists, garrisons, etc. of Roman heritage would look like today's Southern Italians, because Northern Italy until late Roman times was considered effectively Gaul.

I posted about this here:

https://snplogic.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-genetics-of-ancient-romans.html

How many genetic similarities between South Italy and Greece might be explained IN PART from Roman-era outflows, instead of pre-Roman or modern inflows?

Italianthro said...

https://snplogic.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-genetics-of-ancient-romans.html

That's an interesting post. Do you have any titles/links for the Chris Wickham, JB Bury and Ronald Some research you talk about?

What we really need is some Ancient Roman DNA. I wonder what's taking so long.