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Indigenous Arabs are descendants of the earliest split from ancient Eurasian populati

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  • Indigenous Arabs are descendants of the earliest split from ancient Eurasian populati

    Indigenous Arabs are descendants of the earliest split from ancient Eurasian populations
    open access
    Juan L. Rodriguez-Flores1,8, Khalid Fakhro2,3,8, Francisco Agosto-Perez1,4, Monica D. Ramstetter4, Leonardo Arbiza4, Thomas L. Vincent1, Amal Robay3, Joel A. Malek3, Karsten Suhre5, Lotfi Chouchane3, Ramin Badii6, Ajayeb Al-Nabet Al-Marri6, Charbel Abi Khalil3, Mahmoud Zirie7, Amin Jayyousi7, Jacqueline Salit1, Alon Keinan4, Andrew G. Clark4, Ronald G. Crystal1,9 and Jason G. Mezey1,4,9
    + Author Affiliations

    1Department of Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York 10065, USA;
    2Sidra Medical and Research Center, Doha, Qatar;
    3Department of Genetic Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College–Qatar, Doha, Qatar;
    4Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA;
    5Bioinformatics Core, Weill Cornell Medical College–Qatar, Doha, Qatar;
    6Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar;
    7Department of Medicine, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar
    Corresponding author:
    ↵8 These authors contributed equally to this study.

    ↵9 These authors contributed equally as senior investigators for this study.

    An open question in the history of human migration is the identity of the earliest Eurasian populations that have left contemporary descendants. The Arabian Peninsula was the initial site of the out-of-Africa migrations that occurred between 125,000 and 60,000 yr ago, leading to the hypothesis that the first Eurasian populations were established on the Peninsula and that contemporary indigenous Arabs are direct descendants of these ancient peoples. To assess this hypothesis, we sequenced the entire genomes of 104 unrelated natives of the Arabian Peninsula at high coverage, including 56 of indigenous Arab ancestry. The indigenous Arab genomes defined a cluster distinct from other ancestral groups, and these genomes showed clear hallmarks of an ancient out-of-Africa bottleneck. Similar to other Middle Eastern populations, the indigenous Arabs had higher levels of Neanderthal admixture compared to Africans but had lower levels than Europeans and Asians. These levels of Neanderthal admixture are consistent with an early divergence of Arab ancestors after the out-of-Africa bottleneck but before the major Neanderthal admixture events in Europe and other regions of Eurasia. When compared to worldwide populations sampled in the 1000 Genomes Project, although the indigenous Arabs had a signal of admixture with Europeans, they clustered in a basal, outgroup position to all 1000 Genomes non-Africans when considering pairwise similarity across the entire genome. These results place indigenous Arabs as the most distant relatives of all other contemporary non-Africans and identify these people as direct descendants of the first Eurasian populations established by the out-of-Africa migrations.