Friday, February 15, 2008

Do you REALLY belong to my ethnic group?

In this paper, the authors provide genetic evidence that a Chinese ethnic group called the Pinghua does not cluster as predicted with the Han ethnic group .

Dienekes also covers this paper

Two points:
  • I was taken aback by the first sentence of the abstract: "The Han Chinese is the largest single ethnic group in the world..." ... hmmm... interesting, not too sure what to make of that kind of claim.
  • with this kind of paper you can start to imagine the potential that these studies have for being fodder for social/biological prejudice or inter-group conflict.
On the other hand, it is great to have genetic studies of Chinese populations, and by Chinese researchers..notice that the Genographic consortium is one of the authors.

Pinghua population as an exception of Han Chinese's coherent genetic structure.
Gan RJ, Pan SL, Mustavich LF, Qin ZD, Cai XY, Qian J, Liu CW, Peng JH, Li SL, Xu JS, Jin L, Li H; The Genographic Consortium.
J Hum Genet. 2008 Feb 13 [Epub ahead of print]
Abstract: The Han Chinese is the largest single ethnic group in the world, consisting of ten Chinese branches. With the exception of the Pinghua branch, the genetic structure of this group has been studied extensively, and Y chromosome and mitochondrial (mt)DNA data have demonstrated a coherent genetic structure of all Han Chinese. It is therefore believed that the Pinghua branch, being members of an old branch of the Han Chinese, despite being scattered in and around Guangxi Province where members of the Daic and Hmong-Mien are more prevalent than Han Chinese, is no exception. We have studied 470 individual samples (including 195 males) from Pinghua populations and other ethnic groups (Zhuang, Kam, Mulam, Laka, and Mien) from six areas (Hezhou, Fuchuan, Luocheng, Jinxiu, Sanjiang, and Wuxuan) in the north of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China. Both mtDNA and the Y chromosomes were typed in these samples. High frequencies of the Y chromosome haplogroups O2a* and O*, which always present at a high frequency among the populations of the southern minorities, were found in Pinghua populations. Only Pinghua populations in Luocheng and Jinxiu maintain the Han frequent haplogroup O3a5a. mtDNA lineages B4a, B5a, M*, F1a, M7b1, and N* were found in Pinghua populations, exhibiting a pattern similar to the neighboring indigenous populations, especially the Daic populations. Cluster analyses (dendrograms, principal component analyses, and networks) of Pinghua populations, the other Han branches, and other ethnic groups in East Asia indicated that Pinghua populations are much closer to the southern minorities than to the other Han branches. Admixture analyses confirmed this result. In conclusion, we argue that Pinghua populations did not descend from Han Chinese, but from southern minorities. The ancestral populations of Pinghua people were assimilated by the Han Chinese in terms of language, culture, and self-identification and, consequently, the Pinghua people became an exceptional branch of Han Chinese's coherent genetic structure.


Anonymous said...

It is inexplicable that one can find any social/biological prejudice or inter-group conflict. Or we can not talk anything about the biological variety among populations. The genetic variety among the populations are so common. And many of them are associated with ethnicity. That is nothing startling.

Yann Klimentidis said...

Yes, but human groups are very good at finding reasons to kill/exterminate other groups, and some may argue that giving explicit scientific legitimacy to reasons why one group is different from another, especially having to do with notions of "blood"(i.e. genetics), can lead to bad things.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right. Fortunately, that is not the case for Chinese. Chinese traditional idea is that one exotic population accepting Huaxia (Acient Han) culture is Huaxia. A Han population quitting Huaxia culture is Man-Yi (Non-Huaxia). Chinese people care culture only. Especially, nowadays, Chinese people think the ethnic groups are admixing. However, most Chinese people will use genetics to trace their family origin. Chinese pay much more passion in record their pedigree than their ethnic group. This study will help them to compare whether their family is Southern origin or Northern origin.

Yann Klimentidis said...

hmm, ethnicity has very little to do with pedigree? Usually "ethnicity" is a combination of culture and "blood".
thank you for the comment.

Anonymous said...

That is the difference between ideas of Oriental people and Occidental people. For example, the Tang dynasty Emperors have clearly Sienber stirp. Mother and grandmother of the first emperor Li Yuan were all Sienber. Moreover, the family of Emperors Li may also derived from the Sienber group from Manchuria. However, as they had well accepted Han Culture, no one doubted their validity of controlling the Largest dynasty of Han people. Another sample is the Qing Dynasty, the gerentocratic of which is Manchurian. As they fitted themselves into the Han culture and society. Most of the Han people accepted their government in a period before the Revolution.

BTW: A Chinese Anthropological Journal: "Communication on Contemporary Anthropology" is devoted in publicizing the anthropological knowledges in China. They are doing very well in leading the public opinion.

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