Ethnic composition and genetic differentiation of the Libyan population: insights on Alu polymorphisms



Halima AB, Bahri R, Esteban E, Aribia MH, Moral P, Chaabani H.


Ann Hum Biol. 2014 May-Jun;41(3):229-37. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2013.850112. Epub 2013 Nov 4.


BACKGROUND: It is thought that the ancient population of Libya was mainly composed of Saharan Berbers. Socio-geographic conditions and historical events have exerted some changes on the composition of the present-day Libyan population. AIM: To screen a set of autosomal Alu markers in a representative sample of the general Libyan population in order to study its ethnic and genetic structure and to re-examine its genetic relationships with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern groups. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A sample of 190 Libyans was analysed for 17 Alu insertions. The sample was divided according to the Arabic or Berber origin of individuals’ surnames. RESULTS: The current general Libyan population is homogeneous and shows considerable genetic diversity compared with other North Mediterranean and North African populations. It shows intermediate genetic distances between Moroccans, Algerians and Tunisians on one side and Egyptian Siwa Berbers on the other. No particular affinities with Middle Eastern groups were detected. CONCLUSION: Alu insertions are useful markers to contribute to the reconstruction of human population history at a microgeographic scale, in particular when the analyses include anthropologically well sampled populations. The present results provide new information to improve understanding some aspects of the complex peopling of North Africa.

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Link/DOI: 10.3109/03014460.2013.850112