Friday, June 12, 2015

mtDNA of Sri Lankans

mtDNA Tree
Summary of Ranaweera et al 2014 (for complete Figures and Tables ). Note this is just the maternal mtDNA (maternal) which is 1/24th of the genetic make up. See second box in DNA primer
  • Vedda groups (mtDNA) is much different from the rest of Sri Lankans (higher frequency of haplogroup R30b/R8a1a3 in all Vedda subgroups). 
  • There is no clear genetic separation based on the PCA map between Sinhalese and Tamils, and between Up- and Low-country Sinhalese of Sri Lanka.
  • However, the closer association of the Up-country Sinhalese with the Sri Lankan
    Tamils than with the Indian Tamils is not in agreement with the geographic distances among them.
Pretty much the same as in India. i.e. the maternal mtDNA unites the country 
Maybe  Paternal Y-DNA (yet to be done for Sri Lanka) divides by caste, groups etc.
See Vijaya Kuveni: Paradigm for M mtDNA

Haplogroup frequency in Sri Lankan population
No. of samples (%)
Haplogroup Vedda Sinhalese
Sri Lankan
Haplogroup M 13 (17.33) 25 (41.67) 17 (42.5) 17 (43.59) 40 (70.18) 112 (41.33)
Haplogroup D 2 (2.67) 1 (1.67) 0 (0) 2 (5.13) 0 (0) 5 (1.85)
Haplogroup HV 0 (0) 1 (1.67) 1 (2.5) 7 (17.95) 0 (0) 9 (3.32)
Haplogroup N 0 (0) 2 (3.33) 0 (0) 0 (0) 1 (1.75) 3 (1.11)
Haplogroup R/U 0 (0) 1 (1.67) 0 (0) 0 (0) 3 (5.26) 4 (1.48)
Haplogroup R 34 (45.33) 10 (16.67) 10 (25) 3 (7.69) 5 (8.77) 62 (22.88)

Among groups
Among populations
within groups
Within populations
Model Variance P-value Variance P-value Variance P-value
Ethnic criteriab 1.72 0.039 8.61 0.001 89.66 0.001
Linguistic criteriac 2.57 0.002 8.2 0.001 89.23 0.001
Geographic criteriad 0.55 0.677 10.56 0.001 89.99 0.001
Vedda vs others 4 0.002 8.15 0.001 87.85 0.001
Up-country Sinhalese vs Low-country Sinhalese 1.19 0.814 9.82 0.001 91.37 0.001
Sri Lankan Tamils vs Indian Tamils 0.73 0.027 2.19 0.028 97.08 0.003
b) Five groups (Vedda people, Up-country Sinhalese, Low-country Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils).
c) Three groups (Vedda dialect, Indo-European language and Dravidian language).
d) Seven provinces (North, North-Central, Central, Eastern, Uva, Sabaragamuwa and South).
NOTE: AMOVA is used to measure haplotype diversity.

indicated that almost 50% of the individuals from all the studied populations belonged to haplogroup M lineages (including haplogroup M, D and G)"

"Three haplogroups, M2, U2i (U2a, U2b and U2c) and R5, recognized as a package of Indian-specific mtDNA clades harboring an equally deep coalescent age of about 50000–70000 years, 30 were present in the ethnic populations of Sri Lanka

It is quite astonishing to see such a lower frequency of M haplogroup in the Vedda population when compared with southern Indian tribal groups (70–80%) as well as southern Indian caste populations (65%).

The Vedda mtDNA, Specially Vedda-Rathugala (VA-Rat) and Vedda-Pollebadda (VA-Pol) seems a genetic isolate. See Figure 5 in Ranaweera et al. 

Similar study (mtDNA) on a bigger scale in India Chandrasekar et al 2009  



  1. Interested to know who are the closest global relatives of the Vedda people. Will one of the Andaman archipelago's tribes match up?

    And I wonder if they’re working on similar analysis of Madivians? Would put to rest all of Heyerdahl’s speculations, if the Maldive govt allows the data to be collected and published...

  2. Yes would be interesting to see where the origins/similar populations to Veddas.
    Maybe they could be relict population too, i.e. similar populations elsewhere got replaced/wiped out.

    Maldivians are skittish about pre Islamic Maldivian history.
    One study indicates, general South Asian ancestry with very little Arab.

    The Australian Aborigines and Indian Tribals share similar mtDNA (M42 haplogroup).
    By extension most South Asians share the same mtDNA (M) with Australian Aborigines.