Advertise On EU-Digest

Annual Advertising Rates


Italy: Italians “do not exist”. Only Sardinians are pure-blooded

Maine's economy has become increasingly dependent on services, while the traditional industry, the manufacture of paper and paper products, has declined. Fishing, forestry, mining, and agriculture comprise the second most important sector.

Males and Females
 “We involved blood donors to collect 3,000 blood samples of Italians from all regions,” says Pettener. “So far we have examined about 900. A requirement for participants was that all their grandparents came from the same province. Initial data, published in the journal PlosOne, concerned so-called uniparental markers: the Y chromosome, transmitted by the male line and the mitochondrial DNA, by the female line”. The result? “It is generally thought that genetic variability in Italy follows a gradual change according to a north-south axis,” explained the expert. “Instead, from the point of view of the Y chromosome (male line), apart from Sardinia, we find that Italy is divided according to a more longitudinal line, which separates the north-west from the south-east. The mitochondrial DNA (female line), meanwhile, displays a more homogeneous distribution, which may be explained by greater female mobility as a result of marital practices whereby the women were the ones who moved to their husbands’ towns. The overall picture is the result of movements along two different trajectories which began in the Neolithic, with the advent of agricultural technologies and livestock farming. In subsequent centuries everything happened, with Germans, Greeks, Lombards, Normans, Swabians and Arabs all passing through, leaving their genes behind them.”

The genetic history of Italians, however, has not been influenced by migration alone. Adaptation to different selective pressures was also decisive, and influenced susceptibility to different diseases. Another study, published in Scientific Reports, coordinated by the Molecular Anthropology and Human Adaptation Unit of the Department of Biological and Environmental Biological Sciences (BiGeA) of the University of Bologna, confirmed this. “The evolution of the populations of northern Italy has been conditioned by a cold climate, which has necessitated a high-calorie, fatty diet”, explained Marco Sazzini, a BiGeA researcher. “In these populations natural selection has encouraged the spread of genetic variants able to modulate the metabolism of triglycerides and cholesterol and insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The different climate and genetic contributions from other Mediterranean populations have meant that the inhabitants of central and southern Italy have maintained genetic variants responsible for greater vulnerability to these diseases.” In addition to climate and diet, another factor that has influenced the genetic evolution of Italians, especially in Sardinia and in central and southern Italy, are infectious diseases. In Sardinia, for example, malaria was a major environmental pressure, while in the south natural selection boosted inflammatory responses against the bacteria behind tuberculosis and leprosy. In turn, however, this could be one of the evolutionary causes for increased susceptibility to inflammatory diseases of the intestine, such as Crohn’s disease.

The case of Sardinia
As far as regards Sardinia, an interesting aspect of these studies is related to the analysis of isolated populations. “Sardinians,” emphasized Pettener, “differ from all other Italian and European populations. While Sicily has been a hub for all Mediterranean populations, Sardinia preserves the oldest traces, not having suffered invasions, and is differentiated from all European populations, just like the Basques and Lapps. “The study of similarly, or even more isolated populations than the Sardinians – for example, that of the Albanian-speaking Arbëreshë who settled in some areas of the south; the Ladinians, scattered in the valleys of the Dolomites; the Cimbri of the Asiago plateau; or the Griko and Grecanici peoples of Salento and Calabria – is interesting, because it allows us to see what we were once like, assuming that there have been few grafts of different DNA over time. A real time machine.”

Read more: Italians “do not exist”. Only Sardinians are pure-blooded -

No comments: