S. M S. Chahal, Parminder Singh, Harjit Singh, Rupinder Bansal, I. J S. Bansal
Human Biology 80 (4), 409-434, (1 August 2008) https://doi.org/10.3378/1534-6617-80.4.409
KEYWORDS: RED CELL ENZYME POLYMORPHISMS, ESD, PGM1, ADA, AK1, GLO1, ACP1, GPI, CASTE POPULATIONS, TRIBAL POPULATIONS, Uttarakhand, CENTRAL HIMALAYAS
The Indian Himalayas, being semi-isolated geographically, provide ideal conditions for population genetics investigations. The main aim of this study is to genetically characterize and analyze the genetic structure of the people of Uttarakhand, a newly created North Indian hill state in the Central Himalayas, using original phenotype and allele-frequency data on a battery of seven red cell enzyme polymorphisms. For this analysis, blood samples were collected from 3,222 unrelated subjects belonging to various endogamous caste populations (Brahmin, Rajput, and Shilpkar) and tribal Bhotia inhabiting seven different districts in the Garhwal (northern) and Kumaon (southern) regions of Uttarakhand. Hemolysates were typed for isozymes of ESD, PGM1, ADA, AK1, GLO1, ACP1, and GPI using standard electrophoretic techniques. The genetic structure of these regional caste and tribal population groups was investigated with the help of different statistical measures. The present biochemical marker results show that the overall genetic constitution of the different populations of Uttarakhand is rather heterogeneous but similar to that of various caste and tribal populations of the neighboring hill state of Himachal Pradesh, situated on Uttarakhand's western border. The extent of genic differentiation observed in different contemporary populations of Garhwal was twice as high as that of Kumaon. Interestingly, in genetic distance dendrograms of both the regions and of all of Uttarakhand, all the Shilpkar groups are differentiated from the remaining groups of Brahmin, Rajput, and Bhotia. The genetic constitution of the Shilpkar (a scheduled caste population of Uttarakhand) and to a lesser extent that of the Bhotia (a scheduled tribe population of Uttarakhand) are rather different from both the Brahmin and Rajput high-caste populations, which tend to show genetic similarities between them. These observations are corroborated by the known ethnohistory of different populations of Uttarakhand.