Sequencing the Count Draculome!

Ok, not really, but it’s always fun to tweak Jonathan Eisen with new ‘badomics’ words.

One of the things I like about PLoSOne is that, even though the papers might not be The Seminal Papers of Our Time, they are a lot more fun–and, when possible, we should have fun doing this stuff. Consider this abstract (boldface mine):

Vlad III The Impaler, also known as Dracula, descended from the dynasty of Basarab, the first rulers of independent Wallachia, in present Romania. Whether this dynasty is of Cuman (an admixed Turkic people that reached Wallachia from the East in the 11th century) or of local Romanian (Vlach) origin is debated among historians. Earlier studies have demonstrated the value of investigating the Y chromosome of men bearing a historical name, in order to identify their genetic origin. We sampled 29 Romanian men carrying the surname Basarab, in addition to four Romanian populations (from counties Dolj, N = 38; Mehedinti, N = 11; Cluj, N = 50; and Brasov, N = 50), and compared the data with the surrounding populations. We typed 131 SNPs and 19 STRs in the non-recombinant part of the Y-chromosome in all the individuals. We computed a PCA to situate the Basarab individuals in the context of Romania and its neighboring populations. Different Y-chromosome haplogroups were found within the individuals bearing the Basarab name. All haplogroups are common in Romania and other Central and Eastern European populations. In a PCA, the Basarab group clusters within other Romanian populations. We found several clusters of Basarab individuals having a common ancestor within the period of the last 600 years. The diversity of haplogroups found shows that not all individuals carrying the surname Basarab can be direct biological descendants of the Basarab dynasty. The absence of Eastern Asian lineages in the Basarab men can be interpreted as a lack of evidence for a Cuman origin of the Basarab dynasty, although it cannot be positively ruled out. It can be therefore concluded that the Basarab dynasty was successful in spreading its name beyond the spread of its genes.

Like I said, perhaps not the most important study EVAH!, but it’s interesting that the Basarab name does seem to have a high genetic fidelity, similar to ‘Cohens’ among Jews (not all cohens are ‘genetic’ cohens. So someone was doing some hanky panky, or falsified his credentials).

Anyway, it’s a pretty straightforward paper, and open access.

Cited literature: Martinez-Cruz B, Ioana M, Calafell F, Arauna LR, Sanz P, et al. (2012) Y-Chromosome Analysis in Individuals Bearing the Basarab Name of the First Dynasty of Wallachian Kings. PLoS ONE 7(7): e41803. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041803

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One Response to Sequencing the Count Draculome!

  1. Greg Wilson says:

    We’ve already built a phylogenetic tree for the Count (and a few others) as an example for Software Carpentry: http://software-carpentry.org/4_0/setdict/phylogen/

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