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Concept: Afghanistan


The Kalash represent an enigmatic isolated population of Indo-European speakers who have been living for centuries in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges of present-day Pakistan. Previous Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA markers provided no support for their claimed Greek descent following Alexander III of Macedon’s invasion of this region, and analysis of autosomal loci provided evidence of a strong genetic bottleneck. To understand their origins and demography further, we genotyped 23 unrelated Kalash samples on the Illumina HumanOmni2.5M-8 BeadChip and sequenced one male individual at high coverage on an Illumina HiSeq 2000. Comparison with published data from ancient hunter-gatherers and European farmers showed that the Kalash share genetic drift with the Paleolithic Siberian hunter-gatherers and might represent an extremely drifted ancient northern Eurasian population that also contributed to European and Near Eastern ancestry. Since the split from other South Asian populations, the Kalash have maintained a low long-term effective population size (2,319-2,603) and experienced no detectable gene flow from their geographic neighbors in Pakistan or from other extant Eurasian populations. The mean time of divergence between the Kalash and other populations currently residing in this region was estimated to be 11,800 (95% confidence interval = 10,600-12,600) years ago, and thus they represent present-day descendants of some of the earliest migrants into the Indian sub-continent from West Asia.

Concepts: Population ecology, South Asia, Population bottleneck, Effective population size, Afghanistan, Asia, Indian subcontinent, Population genetics


High-frequency microsatellite haplotypes of the male-specific Y-chromosome can signal past episodes of high reproductive success of particular men and their patrilineal descendants. Previously, two examples of such successful Y-lineages have been described in Asia, both associated with Altaic-speaking pastoral nomadic societies, and putatively linked to dynasties descending, respectively, from Genghis Khan and Giocangga. Here we surveyed a total of 5321 Y-chromosomes from 127 Asian populations, including novel Y-SNP and microsatellite data on 461 Central Asian males, to ask whether additional lineage expansions could be identified. Based on the most frequent eight-microsatellite haplotypes, we objectively defined 11 descent clusters (DCs), each within a specific haplogroup, that represent likely past instances of high male reproductive success, including the two previously identified cases. Analysis of the geographical patterns and ages of these DCs and their associated cultural characteristics showed that the most successful lineages are found both among sedentary agriculturalists and pastoral nomads, and expanded between 2100 BCE and 1100 CE. However, those with recent origins in the historical period are almost exclusively found in Altaic-speaking pastoral nomadic populations, which may reflect a shift in political organisation in pastoralist economies and a greater ease of transmission of Y-chromosomes through time and space facilitated by the use of horses.

Concepts: Genealogical DNA test, Afghanistan, Genetic genealogy, Genghis Khan, Turkic peoples, Nomadic pastoralism, Mongolia, Nomad


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Zataria multiflora Boiss. (ZM) is a thyme-like plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family that grows wild only in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This plant with the vernacular name of Avishan-e-Shirazi (Shirazi thyme) in Iran is a valuable medicinal and condimental plant. It has several traditional uses as an antiseptic, carminative, stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, anesthetic, anti-spasmodic and analgesic. AIM OF THE STUDY: This paper reviews the ethnopharmacology, pharmacology, toxicology, modern pharmaceutical uses and phytochemistry of Zataria multiflora, and highlights the gaps in our knowledge deserving further research. METHODS: All relevant databases were searched for the terms “Zataria”, “Zataria multiflora”, “Shirazi thyme” and “Iranian thyme” without limitation up to 24th October 2012. Information on Zataria multiflora was collected via electronic search using Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Science and SID (for articles in Persian language), and local books on ethnopharmacology. RESULTS: ZM has played an important role in Iranian traditional medicine. In light of the modern pharmacological and clinical investigations, ZM is a valuable medicinal and condimental plant that has anti-microbial, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic and anti-nociceptive properties. The oil of ZM contains high percentages of oxygenated monoterpenes, in particular thymol and carvacrol, and exhibits excellent anti-microbial properties. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, antimicrobial property appears to be the most interesting studied biological effect of ZM. The lack of a comprehensive phytochemical analysis of ZM is an important limitation that can be noted regarding most of the previous studies.

Concepts: Lamiaceae, Thymol, Pharmacognosy, Afghanistan, Medicine, Persian language, Iran, Pharmacology


Aim: The purpose of this study was to characterize Y-chromosome diversity in Tajiks from Tajikistan and in Persians and Kurds from Iran. Method: Y-chromosome haplotypes were identified in 40 Tajiks, 77 Persians and 25 Kurds, using 12 short tandem repeats (STR) and 18 binary markers. Results: High genetic diversity was observed in the populations studied. Six of 12 haplogroups were common in Persians, Kurds and Tajiks, but only three haplogroups (G-M201, J-12f2 and L-M20) were the most frequent in all populations, comprising together ∼ 60% of the Y-chromosomes in the pooled data set. Analysis of genetic distances between Y-STR haplotypes revealed that the Kurds showed a great distance to the Iranian-speaking populations of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The presence of Indian-specific haplogroups L-M20, H1-M52 and R2a-M124 in both Tajik samples from Afghanistan and Tajikistan demonstrates an apparent genetic affinity between Tajiks from these two regions. Conclusions: Despite the marked similarities between Y-chromosome gene pools of Iranian-speaking populations, there are differences between them, defined by many factors, including geographic and linguistic relationships.

Concepts: Short tandem repeat, Y-STR, Uzbekistan, Persian people, Afghanistan, Genealogical DNA test, Genetic genealogy, Iranian peoples


We offer a new hypothesis for why HIV infections fell rapidly after 2001 in Russia: the Taliban’s opium eradication campaign in Afghanistan reduced the supply of heroin, causing use to fall and, thus, transmission of HIV to fall. We present evidence of the impact of the eradication campaign on the heroin market and show that the fall in HIV infections happened simultaneously in Russia and surrounding countries soon after the eradication campaign. We also show that the decline in HIV infections only occurred in injecting drug users, while other risk groups were unaffected. Limitations to our analysis are discussed.

Concepts: War in Afghanistan, Opium production in Afghanistan, AIDS, Drug addiction, Infectious disease, Drug injection, Heroin, Afghanistan


One new genus (Roznerathous gen. n.) and 31 new species of Elateridae are described: Athous szalokii sp. n. (Georgia), Agriotes balikesirensis sp. n. (Turkey), Agriotes rozneri sp. n. (Syria), Agriotes sakaryaensis sp. n. (Turkey), Cardiophorus anatolicus sp. n. (Turkey), Cardiophorus aranyos sp. n. (Afghanistan), Cardiophorus burkus sp. n. (Afghanistan), Cardiophorus dicronychoides sp. n. (Afghanistan), Cardiophorus podlussanyi sp. n. (Turkey), Cardiophorus tenuis sp. n. (Armenia), Coptostethus attilai sp. n. (Spain: Canary Isl.), Coptostethus buci sp. n. (Spain: Canary Isl.), Coptostethus kundratai sp. n. (Spain: Canary Isl.), Craspedostethus ferrugineus sp. n. (Iran), Craspedostethus hirticollis sp. n. (Afghanistan), Dicronychus decoroides sp.n. (Iran), Dicronychus diluvii sp. n. (Turkey), Dicronychus fabiani sp. n. (Iran), Dicronychus gurjevae sp. n. (Afghanistan), Dicronychus ilniczkyi sp. n. (Oman), Dicronychus kandaharensis sp. n. (Afghanistan), Dicronychus karolyvigi sp. n. (Iran), Dicronychus podlussanyi sp. n. (Turkey), Dicronychus povolnyi sp. n. (Afghanistan), Dicronychus quadrimaculatus sp. n. (Afghanistan), Glyphonyx occidentalis sp. n. (Afghanistan), Hartenius marocanus sp. n. (Morocco), Hemicrepidius rahmei (Iran) sp. n., Idotarmonides gracilis sp. n. (Turkey), Roznerathous hellenicus sp. n. (Greece), Oedostethus pektusanicus sp. n. (North Korea). Dicronychus marginalis comb. n. and Dicronychus oxypterus comb. n. New distributional data for species of the genera Aeoloides, Agriotes, Ampedus, Cardiohypnus, Cardiophorus, Cidnopus, Craspedostethus, Dicronychus, Drasterius, Haterumelater, Heteroderes, Hypnoidus, Isidus, Limonius, Liotrichus, Melanotus, Pseudocrepidophorus and Zorochros are given. The females of Astanchus ussuriensis (Gurjeva, 1975); Cidnopus macedonicus Cate et Platia, 1989; Peripontius orchymonti Platia, 2008 and the male of Agriotes barkulensis Jagemann, 1942 were unknown at the time of their description, are figured. With 137 figures. 

Concepts: Central Asia, Armenia, Afghanistan, Western Asia, Click beetle, Iran, Turkey, Beetle


The objective of this study was to report the number, nature, and severity of genitourinary (GU) injuries among male US service members (SMs) deployed to Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF).

Concepts: Afghanistan, Iraq, Arabic language, Iraq War, Operation Enduring Freedom


The high mountains of Asia-encompassing the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Pamir Alai, Kunlun Shan, and Tian Shan mountains-have the highest concentration of glaciers globally, and 800 million people depend in part on meltwater from them. Water stress makes this region vulnerable economically and socially to drought, but glaciers are a uniquely drought-resilient source of water. Here I show that these glaciers provide summer meltwater to rivers and aquifers that is sufficient for the basic needs of 136 million people, or most of the annual municipal and industrial needs of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. During drought summers, meltwater dominates water inputs to the upper Indus and Aral river basins. Uncertainties in mountain precipitation are poorly known, but, given the magnitude of this water supply, predicted glacier loss would add considerably to drought-related water stress. Such additional water stress increases the risk of social instability, conflict and sudden, uncontrolled population migrations triggered by water scarcity, which is already associated with the large and rapidly growing populations and hydro-economies of these basins.

Concepts: Hindu Kush, Mount Imeon, Tajikistan, Karakoram, Central Asia, Water, Pamir Mountains, Afghanistan


Central Asia is a vast geographic region that includes five former Soviet Union republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The region has a unique infectious disease burden, and a history that includes Silk Road trade routes and networks that were part of the anti-plague and biowarfare programs in the former Soviet Union. Post-Soviet Union biosurveillance research in this unique area of the world has met with several challenges, including lack of funding and resources to independently conduct hypothesis driven, peer-review quality research. Strides have been made, however, to increase scientific engagement and capability. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are examples of countries where biosurveillance research has been successfully conducted, particularly with respect to especially dangerous pathogens. In this review, we describe in detail the successes, challenges, and opportunities of conducting biosurveillance in Central Asia as exemplified by our recent research activities on ticks and tick-borne diseases in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Concepts: Russian Empire, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Silk Road, Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, Central Asia


Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne viral disease of humans that affects a wide geographic area of Africa and Eurasia, including Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia. Since the first detection of CCHF cases in Turkey in 2002, more than 9700 patients have been reported, with an overall mortality rate just under 5%. This article assesses the present epidemiological situation of CCHF in Turkey, with an updated literature review, describes national practices and summarizes lessons learned in preparation for future outbreaks.

Concepts: Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Epidemiology, Past, Future, Present, Time