Druze woman in a traditional garb baking the pitta

The Druze: a population genetic refugium of the Near East

The Druze: a population genetic refugium of the Near East



Phylogenetic mitochondrial DNA haplogroups are highly partitioned across global geographic regions. A unique exception is the X haplogroup, which has a widespread global distribution without major regions of distinct localization.

Principal Findings

We have examined mitochondrial DNA sequence variation together with Y-chromosome-based haplogroup structure among the Druze, a religious minority with a unique socio-demographic history residing in the Near East. We observed a striking overall pattern of heterogeneous parental origins, consistent with Druze oral tradition, together with both a high frequency and a high diversity of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) X haplogroup within a confined regional subpopulation. Furthermore demographic modeling indicated low migration rates with nearby populations.


These findings were enabled through the use of a paternal kindred based sampling approach, and suggest that the Galilee Druze represent a population isolate, and that the combination of a high frequency and diversity of the mtDNA X haplogroup signifies a phylogenetic refugium, providing a sample snapshot of the genetic landscape of the Near East prior to the modern age.


  • Shlush, L.I., Behar, D.M., Yudkovsky, G., Templeton, A., Hadid, Y., Basis, F., Hammer, M., Itzkovitz, S. and Skorecki, K. (2008). The Druze: a population genetic refugium of the Near East. PLoS ONE, 3(5), e2105+.

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Peoples: Druze | Places: | Topics: | DNA Type:

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