People of the Qatari peninsula represent a relatively recent founding by a small number of families from three tribes of the Saudi peninsula, Persia, and Oman, with some African admixture. To assess the combination of this founding effect and first-cousin marriages on Qatar's population genetic structure, in a collaborative program of Weill Cornell-Qatar and Weill Cornell-New York, Cornell University and Qatar University, we assessed DNA samples from self-reported Qatari nationals using Affymetrix SNP Array 5.0 to obtain genotype calls of nearly 500,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in each individual. Principal component analysis was performed along with samples from the Human Genetic Diversity Project dataset, revealing three clusters of genotypes whose proximity to other human population samples is consistent with Arabian origin, a more eastern/Persian origin, and African admixture. The extent of linkage disequilibrium is greater than that of African populations, and runs of homozygosity reflect substantial consanguinity. Despite the fact that the SNPs have a bias toward SNPs common in Europeans, the data strongly support the notion that the Qatari population will provide a valuable resource for the mapping of genes associated with complex disorders. This approach is being tested in samples of the 3 Qatari genomic clusters of healthy vs individuals with type 2 diabetes, a disorder with a high incidence in the Qatari population. To provide a basis for these studies, we have initiated a detailed assessment of the 3 clusters of Qatari genotypes using exome capture and massive parallel sequencing. We expect that these data will provide an invaluable resource for the adaptation of “personalized medicine” for the assessment of risk and the rational use of therapies for the Qatari population.


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  1. R.G. Crystal, L. Chouchane, A. Gohar, R. Mathews, K.A. Al-Ali, M. Zirie, A. Al Jayyousi, M. Butler, J. Salit, N. Hackett, J. Fuller, H. Hunter-Zinck, S. Musharoff, A. Clark, Population genetic structure of the people of Qatar, QFARF Proceedings, 2010, BMO6.
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