M. Vijaya et al.
Sambavar and Samban (Singh 1998), and their number wasestimated to be around 1.8 million (Census of India 2001).
Chakkiliyars are also referred to as Arundhatiyar, Madari,Madiga and Pagadai, and represent the lowest strata evenamong the schedule castes. No literature is available to in-dicate their historical origin, although it is thought that theymight be immigrants from the neighbouring state of AndhraPradesh, as their mother tongue is Telugu. They are mainlya landless community. Their traditional occupations aresweeping, scavenging and removing dead animals, makingand repairing footwear, as well as working as farm labourers(Singh 1998). The size of the populationwas estimated to beover 0.7 million (Census of India 2001).
Kallars are known to be the oldest immigrants of Neolithicperiod with Mediterranean racial elements. Traditionally,they were described as semiagriculturists and semiwarriors.They are mostly agriculturists, and are mainly distributedin Thanjavur and Madurai districts and to a lesser extent inTiruchirapalli, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli and Pudukkot-tai districts (Singh 1998). The size of the population wasestimated to be over 0.8 million (Second Backward ClassesCommission of Tamil Nadu 1989).
They are largely distributed in the districts of Tiruchirapalli,Madurai, Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Than- javur, Pudukkottai, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga dis-tricts. Traditionally,theyareagriculturists(Singh1998). Thepopulation size was estimated around 0.53 million (SecondBackward Classes Commission of Tamil Nadu 1989).
Agamudaiyar of northern Tamil Nadu use the title ‘Mu-daliar’title whereasthoselivingin southernpartsuse thetitle‘Udayar’. They are distributed in the districts of Thanjavur,Nagapattinam, Tiruchirapalli and Pudukkottai (Singh 1998),and number around 0.82 million (Second Backward ClassesCommission of Tamil Nadu 1989).
Subjects and methods
The populations selected for the present study includesscheduled castes (lower caste: Paraiyan and Chakkiliyar),and middle castes (Kallar, Maravar and Agamudaiyar). Inaddition to these, upper caste (Iyer and Iyengar) and lowercaste (Pallan) groups, for which comparable data were avail-able and were also included for comparative analysis (Basu
. 2003). All these populations belong to Dravidian lin-guistic group.Blood samples were drawn with informed consent, from266 unrelated individuals belonging to two scheduled caste:Paraiyan (
50) and Chakkiliyar (
47), and three mid-dle caste: Kallar (
54), Maravar (
68) and Agamu-daiyar (
47). Information about age, sex and caste pro-vided by the respondents were recorded. Institutional humanethical committee clearance was obtained prior to the collec-tion of blood samples. Paraiyansamples were collected fromCuddalore, Dharmapuri and Chennai, Chakkiliyar sampleswere from Salem and Erode districts, Kallar samples fromMadurai and Thanjavur, Maravar samples from Kammuthiand Agamudaiyar samples from Thanjavur district.DNA from the peripheral blood leucocytes was isolatedusing theprotocolof Miller
.(1988). DNA samples werescreenedforeightindelconsistingofseven
) andone mitochondrialDNA insertionsite(
. 2004). These DNA markerswere selected by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT),Government of India as part of its Human Genome Diversity(HGD) initiative.The allele frequencies and their standard errors werecomputed by gene counting method. Chi-square tests forthe departure from Hardy–Weinberg expectations were per-formed. Average heterozygosity was calculated using theestimated allele frequencies for each population. DISPAN(genetic distance and phylogenetic analysis) software (Ota1993) was used to compute average heterozygosity and genediversity (Nei 1973). The software also constructs phylo-genetic trees (dendrograms) by using the neighbour-joiningmethod. Population relationships were also analysed viaPCA, using SPSS 11.0 version.
deletion allele (
locus is human speciﬁcandits presenceis consideredto be theancestral state. Chim-panzees, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons are monomorphicfor the (
) allele at this locus, thereby indicating that thisdeletion event probably occurred after the divergence of hu-mans from the great apes about 4 to 6 million years ago(Tishko
. 1996). The frequencies of these allele wereless than 11% in the study populations. The insertion allele(
locus is human speciﬁc and reported to haveoccurred before the migration of human populations fromAfrica (Zischler
. 1995). The frequency of this allelevaried from 30.2% in Chakkiliyar to 61.8% in Iyengar. Nosigniﬁcant departure from the Hardy–Weinberg equilibriumwas observed (
The average heterozygosity was obtained for all loci alongwith three caste populations of Tamil Nadu for which thedata are available (Basu
. 2003). The values rangedfrom 37.4% in Maravar to a maximum of 45% in Iyengar.The average heterozygosity values of the study populations172
Journal of Genetics,
Vol. 87, No. 2, August 2008