A new paper in the journal Nature Communications claims that Ashkenazi Jews have primarily European roots via the maternal genetic line. Previous research showed that 50-80 percent of DNA from the Ashkenazi Y chromosome, which shows the male lineage, came from the Middle East.
In the new study, researchers looked at the mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through the maternal line and contained in the cytoplasm of the egg, from more than 3,500 people around the world, including Ashkenazi Jews. They found that more than 80 percent of the maternal lineages of Ashkenazi Jews can be traced to Europe.
“The simplest explanation was that it was mainly women who converted and they married with men who’d come from the Near East,” said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England, LiveScience reported.