Genetic studies on Sri Lankan Tamils

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Although Sri Lankan Tamils are culturally and linguistically distinct, genetic studies indicate that they are closely related to other ethnic groups in the island while being related to the Indian Tamils from South India and Bengalis from the East India as well. There are various studies that indicate varying degrees of connections between Sri Lankan Tamils, Sinhalese and Indian ethnic groups.

Study by Dr. Gautam K. Kshatriya[edit]

According to a genetic admixture study by Dr. Gautam K. Kshatriya in 1995, the Sri Lankan Tamil are closely related to the Sinhalese who are closely related to Indian Tamils. Kshatriya found the Sri Lankan Tamils to have a greater contribution from the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka (55.20% +/- 9.47) while the Sinhalese had the greatest contribution from South Indian Tamils (69.86% +/- 0.61), followed by Bengalis from the East India (25.41% +/- 0.51). With both the Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese in the island sharing a common gene pool of 55%. They are farthest from the indigenous Veddahs.[1] This close relationship between the Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese makes sense, as the two populations have been close to each other historically, linguistically, and culturally for over 2000 years.[1]

Genetic admixture of Sri Lankan Tamil by Dr. Gautam K. Kshatriya
Genetic admixture of Sinhalese by Dr. Gautam K. Kshatriya

This is also supported by a genetic distance study, which showed low differences in genetic distance between Tamils and the Sinhalese.[2] Tamils and the Sinhalese also share similar cultures in terms of kinship classification, cousin marriage, dress and housing.[3]

However, these studies do not consider various diverse Veddah groups: Veddahs have a higher diversity between groups than Sinhalese and Tamils do.[4] Later studies have established some connections and links between certain Veddah groups towards North and Sri Lankan Tamils.

The observation that the Sinhalese has highest contribution from South Indian Tamils is challenged by new studies. See Genetic studies on Sinhalese. It is shown that 72% of genetic admixture comes from Bengali rather than South Indian Tamil.

Other studies[edit]

Furthermore, a study looking at genetic variation of the FUT2 gene in the Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhalese population, found similar genetic backgrounds for both ethnic groups, with little genetic flow from other neighbouring Asian population groups.[5] Studies have also found no significant difference with regards to blood group, blood genetic markers and single-nucleotide polymorphism between the Sri Lankan Tamils and other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka.[6][7][8] Another study has also found "no significant genetic variation among the major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka".[9] This is further supported by a study which found very similar frequencies of alleles MTHFR 677T, F2 20210A & F5 1691A in South Indian Tamil, Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamil and Moor populations.[10]

However, another study looking at Alu polymorphism,[11] VNTR[12] and genetic distance[2] have found the genetic relationship between the South Indian Tamil and Sinhalese to be much smaller than Kshatriya's findings (11–30%).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kshatriya, G.K. (1995). "Genetic affinities of Sri Lankan populations". Human Biology. American Association of Anthropological Genetics. 67 (6): 843–66. PMID 8543296.
  2. ^ a b Kirk, R. L. (1976). "The legend of Prince Vijaya — a study of Sinhalese origins". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 45 (1): 91. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330450112.
  3. ^ Yalman, Nur (1 January 1962). "The Structure of the Sinhalese Kindred: A Re-Examination of the Dravidian Terminology". American Anthropologist. 64 (3): 548–575. doi:10.1525/aa.1962.64.3.02a00060. JSTOR 667927.
  4. ^ Ranaweera, Lanka; Kaewsutthi, Supannee; Win Tun, Aung; Boonyarit, Hathaichanoke; Poolsuwan, Samerchai; Lertrit, Patcharee (1 January 2014). "Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations". Journal of Human Genetics. 59 (1): 28–36. doi:10.1038/jhg.2013.112. Retrieved 3 May 2017 – via
  5. ^ Soejima M, Koda Y (December 2005). "Denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography-based genotyping and genetic variation of FUT2 in Sri Lanka". Transfusion. 45 (12): 1934–9. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2005.00651.x. PMID 16371047.
  6. ^ Roberts, D. F.; Creen, C. K.; Abeyaratne, K. P. (1 January 1972). "Blood Groups of the Sinhalese". Man. 7 (1): 122–127. doi:10.2307/2799860. JSTOR 2799860.
  7. ^ Saha, N. (1988). "Blood genetic markers in Sri Lankan populations—reappraisal of the legend of Prince Vijaya". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 76 (2): 217–25. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330760210. PMID 3166342.
  8. ^ Dissanayake VH, Giles V, Jayasekara RW, et al. (April 2009). "A study of three candidate genes for pre-eclampsia in a Sinhalese population from Sri Lanka". The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research. 35 (2): 234–42. doi:10.1111/j.1447-0756.2008.00926.x. PMID 19708171.
  9. ^ Ruwan J. Illeperuma, Samudi N. Mohotti, Thilini M. De Silva, Neil D. Fernandopulle, W.D. Ratnasooriya, Genetic profile of 11 autosomal STR loci among the four major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, Forensic Science International: Genetics, Volume 3, Issue 3, June 2009, Pages e105-e106
  10. ^ Vajira H.W. Dissanayake, Lakshini Y. Weerasekera, C. Gayani Gammulla, Rohan W. Jayasekara, Prevalence of genetic thrombophilic polymorphisms in the Sri Lankan population – implications for association study design and clinical genetic testing services, Experimental and Molecular Pathology, Volume 87, Issue 2, October 2009, Pages 159–162
  11. ^
  12. ^ Papiha SS, Mastana SS, Purandare CA, Jayasekara R, Chakraborty R (October 1996). "Population genetic study of three VNTR loci (D2S44, D7S22, and D12S11) in five ethnically defined populations of the Indian subcontinent". Human Biology. 68 (5): 819–35. PMID 8908803.