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Female gene flow stratifies Hindu castes


Scientists have long been interested in understanding how social processes modulate evolutionary forces1. A good example of this is the intensively studied Hindu caste system, which governs the mating practices of nearly one-sixth of the world's population2,3. However, there is controversy concerning the effect of social stratification on the genetic structure of caste communities. Here we show that differences in social rank between castes correspond to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) distances between castes but not genetic distances estimated from Y-chromosome data.

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Figure 1: Neighbour-joining networks7 of genetic distances among caste communities.


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Bamshad, M., Watkins, W., Dixon, M. et al. Female gene flow stratifies Hindu castes. Nature 395, 651–652 (1998).

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