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All Keralites have similar ancestry, says student research

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor
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Digging the roots: Students collecting blood samples at the biotechnology laboratory at the Sree Buddha College of Engineering at Pattoor, near Pandalam, to study the genetic profile of Kerala's population. — Photo: By Special Arrangement
Digging the roots: Students collecting blood samples at the biotechnology laboratory at the Sree Buddha College of Engineering at Pattoor, near Pandalam, to study the genetic profile of Kerala's population. — Photo: By Special Arrangement

People of Kerala, whether Hindu, Muslim or Christian, have close genetic links to European and East Asian populations, says a study conducted by a group of students from the Sree Buddha College of Engineering at Pattoor, near Pandalam.

The report of the pilot study will soon be published in an international journal and uploaded on a website, says Seema Nair P., Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering of the college, who guided the B.Tech. students in the study.

Dr. Nair said the project on genetic typing or DNA profiling of the Y-chromosome of various communities in Kerala for documenting the rich human genetic diversity started in 2009 after clearing various medical, ethical and legal aspects and was completed in 2010.

The students involved were Sreejit Valiathan, Sreesha Sreedharan, Sruthi P. Vijayaraghavan, Sumi Thomas, Surya Devarajan, Swapna Chandran, Aishwarya B. Chandran, Aruna G.S., Akhila S., Ambili Babu and Nihaz Nizar. Aswathy G. and Chippy Jagannath were the research assistants.

K. Sasikumar, Sree Buddha Education Society chairman, and Somi Sebastian, Principal of the college, backed the project.

Dr. Nair said the study had completely analysed the short tandem repeat (STR) profile of Y-chromosomes in more than 200 male blood samples collected from among the students and staff of the college. The findings would disprove the historical data-based theory of Dravidian origin of the Kerala population.

The paternal lineage of various non-tribal communities of Kerala, she said, showed a mixed genetic origin from East Asian and European populations.

The data made available through the study would be of great help in developing unique genetic fingerprints or a DNA barcode for personnel identification, forensic analysis and so on. It would be of great use in creating unique identity cards, based on individual DNA profiles which was impossible to be duplicated.

The study had got much relevance as genetic fingerprinting could help in predicting health.

“To explain briefly the science behind genetic fingerprinting to the layman, Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid (DNA) is the genetic material present in every cell that makes up the tissues and organs of the human body. DNA has the same pattern in each and every cell of the body of an individual. About 99.9 per cent of human DNA sequences are the same in all individuals and it is the remaining DNA that distinguishes one individual from another, unless they are twins,” Dr. Nair said.

She said the study adopted the method of genetic analysis of 17 genes (STR markers), using the ‘AmpFlSTR Yfiler PCR Amplification Kit' manufactured by Applied Biosystems, U.S., with the help of a genetic analyser.

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