Comparative genetic history of Samaritan patri- and matrilineages based on Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sequence variation

The Samaritan community, which numbered more than a million in late Roman times and only 146 in 1917, today numbers 640 people representing five large families. The Samaritans have generated great interest as a resource for mapping and cloning recessive disease genes. 

They are culturally different from both Jewish and non-Jewish populations in the Middle East. Genetic differences between the Samaritans and their Jewish and non-Jewish neighboring populations are corroborated in the present study of 7,280 bp of non-recombining Y-chromosome DNA and 5,218 bp of non-D loop mitochondrial sequence that were analyzed in 12 male and 16 female Samaritans separated by at least two generations, and 18 to 20 individuals each representing Ethiopian, Ashkenazi, Iraqi, Libyan, Moroccan, and Yemenite Jews, as well as Druze and Palestinians all currently living in Israel.

The five Samaritan families clustered to four distinct Y-chromosome haplogroups according to their patrilineal identity. A novel informative polymorphism, M267, defining one of these haplogroups is shared by all Jewish populations under study except the Ethiopian Jews. Fourteen of the 16 Samaritan females carry either of two unique mitochondrial haplotypes not found among any other ethnic groups representing from the five continents.


Peidong Shen
Vivian Chou
Tal Lavi
Marcus Feldman
Peter Oefner (PI)

Shen P, Lavi T, Kivisild T, Chou V, Sengun D, Gefel D, Shpirer I, Woolf E, Hillel J, Feldman MW, Oefner PJ.
Reconstruction of patrilineages and matrilineages of Samaritans and other Israeli populations from Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sequence variation.
Hum Mutat. 2004 Sep;24(3):248-60.