tsarnaev third cousin a prominent islamist in dagestan

and tamerlan hung out with him:

“Exclusive: Dagestani Relative of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Is a Prominent Islamist”

“Last year, when Tamerlan Tsarnaev spent six months in the Russian region of Dagestan, he had a guide with an unusually deep knowledge of the local Islamist community: a distant cousin named Magomed Kartashov. Six years older than Tsarnaev, Kartashov is a former police officer and freestyle wrestler—and one of the region’s most prominent Islamists.

“In 2011 Kartashov founded and became the leader of an organization called the Union of the Just, whose members campaign for sharia law and pan-Islamic unity in Dagestan, often speaking out against U.S. policies across the Muslim world. The group publicly renounces violence. But some of its members have close links to militants; others have served time in prison for weapons possession and abetting terrorism — charges they say were based on fabricated evidence. For Tsarnaev, these men formed a community of pious young Muslims with whom he could discuss his ideas of jihad. Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat, confirmed that her son is Kartashov’s third cousin. The two met for the first time in Dagestan, she said, and ‘became very close….’

“The Union of the Just is a tight group of activists based in Kizlyar, a town of about 50,000 people in the plains of northern Dagestan. Tsarnaev, whose parents live 90 miles away in the regional capital, Makhachakhla, often travelled to Kizlyar to stay with Kartashov and hang out with his friends.”

i’m going to guess that kartashov is the tsarnaev brothers’ third cousin on their mother’s side, since kartashov is from dagestan (like the tsarnaevs’ mom) and from a town where there are a lot of avars (like the tsarnaevs’ mom).

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more on ibd and historic mating patterns in europe

t (thanks, t!) points me to this article (this story seems to be making the rounds this a.m.):

“All Europeans are related if you go back just 1,000 years, scientists say”

“A genetic survey concludes that all Europeans living today are related to the same set of ancestors who lived 1,000 years ago….

“The researchers were surprised to find that even individuals living as far apart as Britain and Turkey shared a chunk of genetic material 20 percent of the time. To explain that degree of genetic commonality, the researchers say those pairs of individuals would have to have a huge number of common genealogical ancestors 1,000 years ago — a number that takes in everyone who was alive in Europe back then….”

the results of the survey being discussed here have just been published on plos biology: The Geography of Recent Genetic Ancestry across Europe.

before i go on to discuss the bits i’m interested in (the identity by descent, or ibd, rates that they found), i just want to quote something from the plos article related to this business that all europeans share the same set of ancestors that lived 1,000 years ago. yes, we do, but keep in mind that:

“[S]omeone in Spain may be related to an ancestor in the Iberian peninsula through perhaps 1,000 different routes back through the pedigree, but to an ancestor in the Baltic region by only 10 different routes, so that the probability that this Spanish individual inherited genetic material from the Iberian ancestor is roughly 100 times higher. This allows the amount of genetic material shared by pairs of extant individuals to vary even if the set of ancestors is constant.”

in other words, some europeans are more related to one another than to others. but we all knew that already.

anyway…

this is the same (really awesome!) study done by ralph and coop that i posted about last year here and here. (oh, and here, too.) some of the data were available online back then after the researchers had given a presentation somewhere or other [pdf].

i’m interested in ibd data since they, like runs of homozygosity (roh), can give us some clues about how inbred or outbred populations are. it’s not a clear-cut interpretation, though, because both ibd and roh can be affected by other population genetic processes like bottlenecks and migration and simply population size (and probably other things, too, about which i am blissfully ignorant), so one has to make some educated inferences and guesses.

unfortunately, the authors don’t seem to have included in the plos publication the following illustration from their earlier presentation (unless it’s buried in the supplemental data — i didn’t see it there, but there’s a LOT of supplemental data files). that’s a shame, because it’s one of the most interesting:

coop et al - mean within-country ibd rates

the map shows the mean ibd rates for each of the european populations studied (the mean length of the blocks was >1 cM). individuals in the populations with higher mean ibd rates (bigger circles) share more identical stretches of their dna with their fellow countrymen than those in populations with low mean ibd rates. lots of outbreeding can lower the amount and lengths of ibd blocks in a population. as i posted previously, i think you can see the historic (since the early medieval period) outbreeding patterns of western europeans in the low mean ibd rates in western europe. this pattern is even clearer when you add the hajnal line to the map (the hajnal line being a good indicator of the geographical limits of the roman catholic church’s/secular authorities’ push to, amongst other things, ban cousin marriage in the medieval period).

now, here from the plos paper is a table indicating “mean number of IBD blocks shared by a pair of individuals from that population (‘self’), and mean IBD rate averaged across all other populations (‘other’)”:

ralph and coop - mean number of ibd blocks

i put the mean ibd “self” (i.e. within a population) numbers on a map and added the hajnal line. (note that the “mean length of these blocks was 2.5 cM, the median was 2.1 cM, and the 25th and 75th quantiles are 1.5 cM and 2.9 cM, respectively”.) [click on map for LARGER view.]:

europe map - ralph & coop ibd rates + hajnal line

ralph and coop suggest that the rates are so high in eastern europe, and particularly the balkans, because of the fairly recent slavic migration into the area and the fact that the slavs settled in relatively uninhabited areas. they further suggest that the germanic migrations into western europe are not so apparent in the ibd rates since these were already heavily populated areas and maybe even that the germanics were an heterogeneous group to start off with. those are really good theories (especially the one about the slavs), and i think that — yeah — we are probably seeing signals of those migrations in these data. however, once again, i think you can also see the long-term historic inbreeding/outbreeding (greater cousin marriage vs. little cousin marriage) mating patterns of european populations reflected in the ibd rates. (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column for more details on all the mating patterns which i mention in the next few paragraphs.)

my “core europeans” — the english, the french, the belgians, the dutch, the germans, the north italians (not so much the ones in the alps, though), and to some extent the swiss and scandinavians — have the longest history of outbreeding (i.e. avoiding cousin marriage) in europe beginning in the early medieval period — and they have the lowest ibd rates. the rates are a bit higher for scandinavia since they converted to christianity later and, thus, didn’t adopt the cousin marriage bans until later. same with the irish and the scots (in fact, i think that highland scotland should be indicated as being outside the hajnal line, but that’s a discussion for another day). that the netherlands has a higher ibd rate than neighboring belgium and germany also makes sense if you know about the (probable) late adoption of the cousin marriage bans by those living in the marshes like the ditmarsians.

the ibd rates are higher east of the hajnal line and that, too, makes sense if you know that the eastern orthodox church was both later at instituting and less consistent in enforcing cousin marriage bans. the very high rates in albania and kosovo are probably related to the fact that these populations include a majority of muslims and that muslims typically have no bans on marrying cousins (while the albanians, and likely the kosovans [or whatever you want to call them!], have probably avoided paternal cousin marriage, maternal cousin marriage seems to have been an option, possibly even preferred).

the very low rate in italy is puzzling and, as i have said elsewhere, may have to do with the fact that, as the authors suggest, italy has experienced so many influxes of different populations. alternatively, it may have to do with a sampling bias (i.e. where did the italian samples come from? the more outbred north, or the more inbred south?).

the authors also broke down the ibd rates by several european regions of their own devising: “These five groupings are defined as: Europe ‘E,’ lying to the east of Germany and Austria; Europe ‘N,’ lying to the north of Germany and Poland; Europe ‘W,’ to the west of Germany and Austria (inclusive); the Iberian and Italian peninsulas ‘I’; and Turkey/Cyprus ‘TC.'” here is their table:

ralph and coop - mean number of ibd blocks by region

i made a map — and added the hajnal line (of course!):

europe map - ralph & coop regional ibd rates + hajnal line

again, there’s the east-west divide that i’ve pointed out before and which, i think, corresponds to the edge of the hajnal line. there also seems to be a north-south divide, which is apparent on both sides of the east-west (fuzzy) border, and which may have to do with long-standing lower population densities in northern europe. (that does make sense if you think about it — smaller populations inevitably experience closer matings or greater “inbreeding.”)

mating patterns matter! particularly long-term mating patterns. i think so anyway.

previously: ibd and historic mating patterns in europe and ibd rates for europe and the hajnal line and ibd rates and kindreds in germanic populations and russians, eastern europeans, runs of homozygosity (roh), and inbreeding and western europeans, runs of homozygosity (roh), and outbreeding and runs of homozygosity and inbreeding (and outbreeding) and runs of homozygosity again

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eugenics

reader request (we take requests!), from ogunsiron:

“Could you perhaps discuss or encourage discussion about Julian Saluvescu’s latest? He’s the infanticide happy ethicist who’s saying that it’s a moral obligation to genetically modify embryos so that they develop into children who are ‘ethical’. By that he means that it’s an ethical obligation to stamp out among other psychological traits, an inclination for groupness. I suppose that he leaves the option of infanticide for kids for whom the genetic enhancement didn’t work out after all.”

i linked to a story about savulescu’s pronouncement in this past sunday’s linkfest.

i don’t have a whole lot to say about eugenics really. i tend to think more about the past than the future — not because i’m not interested in the future (i think), but because i can’t see how we can decide how to shape our future if we don’t know how we got to where we are today in the first place. we need to understand how things (i.e. biological things) work before we start fiddling with them. (having said that, there are some obvious dysgenic practices i think we should quit right now like paying welfare mommas to have lots of welfare babies. that’s a no-brainer, i think.)

eugenical ideas and practices don’t make me squeamish. i don’t recoil in horror at the thought of people designing better babies. principally, it sounds like a great idea to me! practically is another matter.

two seemingly contradictory caveats from me: 1) no forcing people to adopt eugenical practices (except for stuff like the welfare babies example above) — i don’t like the GUBMENT interfering in private lives/choices (prolly an example of my own hamartia, but what can you do?); and 2) having said that, i do think eugenical practices might have to be regulated in some ways — to avoid certain pitfalls. for example, lots of people might be happy to deselect all sorts of genes for autism in their designer babies — but then we’d wind up with no engineers or mars rovers.

i would’ve suggested just making sure people were well-informed before they make their choices — which they should be in any case — but most people are so stooopid that there will probably have to be some regulations. we’d need to avoid situations like they have in china and india today where there are too many boys ’cause families are opting not to have girls. one could wind up with a similar situation only with no engineers or artists or creative thinkers or whatever.

for the record, not that my opinion really matters, i don’t agree with savulescu that going forward we should necessarily screen out “genes for psychopathy” (whatever they may prove to be) because that would be the most “ethical” thing to do. i would take a more pragmatic view and ask what, if any, benefits do “genes for psychopathy” provide (i’m sure they provide some) — and then i’d ask if we really want to get rid of them.

i’d guess that the good(?) folks at sociopath world might have some thoughts and opinions on all of this. (~_^)

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runs of homozygosity again

**update below**

here’s an exciting new paper!: Genomic Patterns of Homozygosity in Worldwide Human Populations. i don’t have access to the paper itself, but there are lots o’ neat figures and tables in the supplemental data [opens pdf] that relate to runs of homozygosity (roh). roh are identical stretches of dna within an individual’s genome (i.e. identical on each of the dna strands, paternally and maternally inherited). (roh shouldn’t be confused with blocks of identity by descent [ibd], which i did once! ibd blocks are identical stretches of dna as compared between different individuals, iiuc.)

recall that possessing lots of long roh indicates that one’s parents are/were quite similiar genetically speaking. that can be as a result of a couple of different genetic scenarios like (as greying wanderer has brought up a lot recently) simply being from a small sized population (i.e. having a small effective population size) and/or from regular inbreeding (consanguineous/endogamous mating). so, a population having a lot of long roh is either small and/or inbreeds a lot. populations having LOTS of short roh have probably been through some sort of bottleneck (see previous post).

in the paper i looked at in that previous post, the researchers had looked at the different roh lengths for large, regional populations like “europeans” or “east asians.” amongst other things, they had found that some of my regular inbreeders — the fbd marriage folks — had some of the highest numbers of medium and long roh, a state of genetic affairs which likely reflects their long-term close mating patterns. interestingly, the researchers had found that east asians had roh lengths similar to those of europeans across the board, something which surprised me since, at least according to what i’ve been reading, east asians (i.e. the chinese) have been inbreeding for a much longer time than europeans. one drawback of that previous study, though, was that, apart from the french, most of the european populations they looked at were peripheral groups who have had a tendency to inbreed more than my “core” europeans (see mating patterns in europe series below ↓ in left-hand column).

the new paper suffers from some of the same problems since the data come from the same sources (hgdp-ceph and hapmap phase 3 populations), so northern europeans — apart from the french — aren’t included in this paper either. (what can you do? it’s early days yet. i look forward to when there’s lots more genetic data available out there for teh scientists to work with! (^_^) )

what the researchers in this paper have done, though, is to look at both the different mean lengths of roh in each of the different populations sampled AND they looked at total numbers of roh within individuals for each population. this has, i think, drawn out some interesting differences between the populations.

first, here are two graphics from the supplmental data (linked to above). click on each for LARGER views (they should open in new tabs/windows — you might have to click on them again there to super-size them).

i’ve highlighted a handful of populations i want to focus on ’cause i know a little something about their historic mating patterns: the bedouin (as a proxy for the arabs — note that the bedouin have probably inbred more than more settled arabs); italians (not sure if they’re northern or southern italians or a mix of both — however, there are tuscans in the samples with which these “italians” can be compared); pathan or pastuns (more fbd marriage folks, like the bedouins/arabs); and han chinese (there are some northern han chinese with whom this groups can be compared). ok. here are the charts:

as you can see, the researchers have split up the roh into three classes (note that the short and medium classes here are a lot shorter than those in the paper looked at previously):

– A: 0.25-0.40 Mb (short)
– B: 0.6-1.2 Mb (medium)
– C: 0-35 Mb (long)

the interesting thing in the first chart above (Fig. S3 – Mean ROH Length for Each of the Three Size Classes in Each Population), is that the han chinese have lower means of roh length in all of the size classes compared to the other populations i’ve highlighted. in the previous study, the researchers found that east asians had similar means to europeans for all roh lengths. i found this surprising since, from what i’ve read, the han chinese have been inbreeding for a longer period of time than europeans. what might be confounding the results though, once again, is the fact that nw europeans (the outbreeders extraordinaire) are not really included in either of these studies apart from a handful of french samples.

in this latest study, both the bedouin and the pashtun, for instance, have higher means — and wider spreads — of long (class C) roh than the italians, which is what i would’ve expected since those two groups (the bedouins and the pashtuns) are, being fbd marriage folks, serious inbreeders. perhaps the reason the han chinese long roh mean is comparatively low is partly due to the fact that they historically practiced mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage which doesn’t push towards such close inbreeding as fbd marriage. still, i would’ve expected to see greater means of roh for the chinese than the italians — or, at least, around the same. not so much lower. (unless the italians practiced fbd marriage, too — or fzd marriage — but i don’t think so.)

if you look at the second chart (Fig. S4 – Total Number of ROH in Individual Genomes), however, you’ll see that, overall, the han chinese have more short, medium and long roh totally in individual genomes than any of the other three populations i’ve highlighted. both the bedouins and the pashtuns have greater numbers/wider total spread of long roh than the italians, but the han chinese have a much greater total number of long roh than any of the other three groups — three or four times as many.

but they’re, on average, shorter long roh don’t forget. (confusing, eh?!)

perhaps this is what you get when you have — as the chinese have had — a pretty good-sized effective population size for such a long time. there have been a LOT of han chinese for — wow — millennia.

so, it looks like this (in this order of inbrededness — i think):

– bedouins: highest mean, and very wide spread, of long roh; high total numbers, and widest spread, of long roh.
– pashtun: low mean, but widest spread, of long roh; low total number, but very wide spread, of long roh.
– han chinese: very low mean, and very narrow spread, of long roh; highest total numbers, and wide spread, of long roh.
– italians: low mean, and rather wide spread, of long roh; very low total number, and very small spread, of long roh.

other interesting points are that:

– the tuscans/tsi (toscani) appear to have lower short, medium and long mean roh than the generic “italian” category. however, the tuscans have lower total numbers of long roh than the “italians” while the toscani (tsi), on the other hand, appear to have a greater total number of long roh than the “italians.” while the tuscan samples and the toscani/tsi samples are from different studies (hgdp vs. hapmap), they are all supposed to be from tuscany, so it’s surprising that they’re so different. perhaps the individuals in the toscani/tsi sample were more closely related somehow?

– the northern han samples have lower short, medium and long mean roh than the generic “han” category. this would fit my general impression that historically inbreeding has been greater in southern china than in the north. however, the total number of long roh are greater in the northern han sample than in the “han” sample. not sure what that means.

don’t forget that there can be all sorts of reasons for differences in roh: inbreeding vs. outbreeding, yes, but also effective population size, population movement (migration in or out), bottlenecks, etc. i just happen to be interested in trying to pick out the effects of inbreeding/outbreeding — if possible.
_____

**update – here are a couple of excerpts from the article (thnx, b.b.!) [pgs. 277, 279-281]:

“Size Classification of ROH

“Separately in each population, we modeled the distribution of ROH lengths as a mixture of three Gaussian distributions that we interpreted as representing three ROH classes: (A) short ROH measuring tens of kb that probably reflect homozygosity for ancient haplotypes that contribute to local LD [linkage disequilibrium] patterns, (B) intermediate ROH measuring hundreds of kb to several Mb that probably result from background relatedness owing to limited population size, and (c) long ROH measuring multiple Mb that probably result from recent parental relatedness….

“In each population, the size distribution of ROH appears to contain multiple components (Figure 2A). Using a three-component Gaussian mixture model, we classified ROH in each population into three size classes (Figure 2B): short (class A), intermediate (class B), and long (class C). Size boundaries between different classes vary across populations (Table S1); however, considering all populations, all A-B boundaries are strictly smaller than all B-C boundaries (Figure 2C). The mean sizes of class A and B ROH are similar among populations from the same geographic region (Figure S3), with the exception that Africa and East Asia have greater variability. The class C mean is generally largest in the Middle East, Central/South Asia, and the Americas and smallest in East Asia (Figure S3), with the exception that the Tujia population has the largest values. In the admixed Mexican population (MXL), mean ROH sizes are similar to those in European populations. In the admixted African American population (ASW), however, mean ROH sizes are among the smallest in our data set, notably smaller than in most Africans and Europeans.

“Geographic Pattern of ROH

Several patterns emerge from a comparison of the per-individual total lengths of ROH across populations (Figure 3). First, the total lengths of class A (Figure 3A) and class B (Figure 3B) ROH generally increase with distance from Africa, rising in a stepwise fashion in successive continental groups. This trend is similar to the observed reduction in haplotype diversity with increasing distance from Africa. Second, total lengths of class C ROH (Figure 3C) do not show the stepwise increase. Instead, they are higher and more variable in most populations from the Middle East, Central/South Asia, Oceania, and the Americas than in most populations from Africa, Europe, and East Asia. This pattern suggests that a larger fraction of individuals from the Middle East, Central/South Asia, Oceanis, and the Americas tend to have higher levels of parental relatedness, in accordance with demographic estimates of high levels of consanguineous marriage particularly in populations from the Middle East and central/South Asia, and it is similar to that observed for inbreeding-coefficient and identity-by-descent estimates. Third, in the admixed ASW and MXL individuals, total lengths of ROH in each size class are similar to those observed in populations from Africa and Europe, respectively (Figure 3).

“The total numbers of ROH per individual (Figure S4) show similar patterns to those observed for total lengths (Figure 3). However, in East Asian populations, total numbers of class B and class C ROH per individual are notably more variable across populations than are ROH total lengths.”

previously: runs of homozygosity and inbreeding (and outbreeding) and ibd and historic mating patterns in europe

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