Unravelling the distinct strains of Tharu ancestry

van Driem, George; Chaubey, Gyaneshwer; Singh, Manvendra; Crivellaro, Federica; Tamang, Rakesh; Nandan, Amrita; Singh, Kamayani; Sharma, Varun; Pathak, Ajai Kumar; Shah, Anish; Sharma, Vishwas; Selv-Rani, Deepa; Singh, Vipin Kumar; Rai, Niraj; Kushniarevich, Alena; Ilumae, Anne-Mai; Karmin, Monika; Phillip, Anand; Verma, Abhilasha; Prank, Erik; ... (2014). Unravelling the distinct strains of Tharu ancestry. European journal of human genetics, 22(12), pp. 1404-1412. Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/ejhg.2014.36

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The northern region of the Indian subcontinent is a vast landscape interlaced by diverse ecologies, e.g. the Gangetic plain and the Himalayas. A great number of ethnic groups are found there, displayed as a multitude of languages and cultures. The Tharu represent one of the largest and linguistically most diversified such groups, scattered across the Tarai region of Nepal and bordering Indian states. Their origins are uncertain. Hypotheses have been advanced about an Austroasiatic affinity, Tibeto-Burman origins, as well as aboriginal roots in the Tarai. Several Tharu groups speak a variety of Indo-Aryan languages, but have traditionally been described by ethnographers as representing an East Asian phenotype. Their ancestry and intra-population diversity had previously been tested only for haploid (mtDNA and Y-chromosome) markers in a small portion of the population. This study presents the first systematic genetic survey of the Tharu from both Nepal and the Indian states of Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, using genome-wide SNPs and haploid (mtDNA and Y-chromosome) markers. The results suggest that the 'ethnic' construct of Tharu is likely to have lain in the Tarai region, with a reconstructible radiation to Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh. Despite extensive admixture with other local communities, Tharu sub-populations preserve strong genetic signatures that indicate a common ancestry.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

van Driem, George


400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Nature Publishing Group




George van Driem

Date Deposited:

05 Sep 2014 12:58

Last Modified:

05 May 2017 08:04

Publisher DOI:




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