Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome

Cornelia Di Gaetano, Nicoletta Cerutti, Francesca Crobu, Carlo Robino, Serena Inturri, Sarah Gino, Simonetta Guarrera, Peter A. Underhill, Roy J. King, Valentino Romano, Francesco Cali, Mauro Gasparini, Giuseppe Matullo, Alfredo Salerno, Carlo Torre, Alberto Piazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The presence or absence of genetic heterogeneity in Sicily has long been debated. Through the analysis of the variation of Y-chromosome lineages, using the combination of haplogroups and short tandem repeats from several areas of Sicily, we show that traces of genetic flows occurred in the island, due to ancient Greek colonization and to northern African contributions, are still visible on the basis of the distribution of some lineages. The genetic contribution of Greek chromosomes to the Sicilian gene pool is estimated to be about 37% whereas the contribution of North African populations is estimated to be around 6%. In particular, the presence of a modal haplotype coming from the southern Balkan Peninsula and of its one-step derivates associated to E3b1a2-V13, supports a common genetic heritage between Sicilians and Greeks. The estimate of Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor is about 2380 years before present, which broadly agrees with the archaeological traces of the Greek classic era. The Eastern and Western part of Sicily appear to be significantly different by the χ2-analysis, although the extent of such differentiation is not very high according to an analysis of molecular variance. The presence of a high number of different haplogroups in the island makes its gene diversity to reach about 0.9. The general heterogeneous composition of haplogroups in our Sicilian data is similar to the patterns observed in other major islands of the Mediterranean, reflecting the complex histories of settlements in Sicily.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics


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