Using mitochondrial DNA to test the hypothesis of a European post-glacial human recolonization from the Franco-Cantabrian refuge.
ABSTRACT: It has been proposed that the distribution patterns and coalescence ages found in Europeans for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups V, H1 and H3 are the result of a post-glacial expansion from a Franco-Cantabrian refuge that recolonized central and northern areas. In contrast, in this refined mtDNA study of the Cantabrian Cornice that contributes 413 partial and 9 complete new mtDNA sequences, including a large Basque sample and a sample of Asturians, no experimental evidence was found to support the human refuge-expansion theory. In fact, all measures of gene diversity point to the Cantabrian Cornice in general and the Basques in particular, as less polymorphic for V, H1 and H3 than other southern regions in Iberia or in Central Europe. Genetic distances show the Cantabrian Cornice is a very heterogeneous region with significant local differences. The analysis of several minor subhaplogroups, based on complete sequences, also suggests different focal expansions over a local and peninsular range that did not affect continental Europe. Furthermore, all detected clinal trends show stronger longitudinal than latitudinal profiles. In Northern Iberia, it seems that the highest diversity values for some haplogroups with Mesolithic coalescence ages are centred on the Mediterranean side, including Catalonia and South-eastern France.
Project description:Complete sequencing of 62 mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) belonging (or very closely related) to haplogroup H revealed that this mtDNA haplogroup--by far the most common in Europe--is subdivided into numerous subhaplogroups, with at least 15 of them (H1-H15) identifiable by characteristic mutations. All the haplogroup H mtDNAs found in 5,743 subjects from 43 populations were then screened for diagnostic markers of subhaplogroups H1 and H3. This survey showed that both subhaplogroups display frequency peaks, centered in Iberia and surrounding areas, with distributions declining toward the northeast and southeast--a pattern extremely similar to that previously reported for mtDNA haplogroup V. Furthermore, the coalescence ages of H1 and H3 (~11,000 years) are close to that previously reported for V. These findings have major implications for the origin of Europeans, since they attest that the Franco-Cantabrian refuge area was indeed the source of late-glacial expansions of hunter-gatherers that repopulated much of Central and Northern Europe from ~15,000 years ago. This has also some implications for disease studies. For instance, the high occurrence of H1 and H3 in Iberia led us to re-evaluate the haplogroup distribution in 50 Spanish families affected by nonsyndromic sensorineural deafness due to the A1555G mutation. The survey revealed that the previously reported excess of H among these families is caused entirely by H3 and is due to a major, probably nonrecent, founder event.
Project description:BACKGROUND: R0 embraces the most common mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineage in West Eurasia, namely, haplogroup H (approximately 40%). R0 sub-lineages are badly defined in the control region and therefore, the analysis of diagnostic coding region polymorphisms is needed in order to gain resolution in population and medical studies. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We sequenced the first hypervariable segment (HVS-I) of 518 individuals from different North Iberian regions. The mtDNAs belonging to R0 (approximately 57%) were further genotyped for a set of 71 coding region SNPs characterizing major and minor branches of R0. We found that the North Iberian Peninsula shows moderate levels of population stratification; for instance, haplogroup V reaches the highest frequency in Cantabria (north-central Iberia), but lower in Galicia (northwest Iberia) and Catalonia (northeast Iberia). When compared to other European and Middle East populations, haplogroups H1, H3 and H5a show frequency peaks in the Franco-Cantabrian region, declining from West towards the East and South Europe. In addition, we have characterized, by way of complete genome sequencing, a new autochthonous clade of haplogroup H in the Basque country, named H2a5. Its coalescence age, 15.6+/-8 thousand years ago (kya), dates to the period immediately after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: In contrast to other H lineages that experienced re-expansion outside the Franco-Cantabrian refuge after the LGM (e.g. H1 and H3), H2a5 most likely remained confined to this area till present days.
Project description:Different lines of evidence point to the resettlement of much of western and central Europe by populations from the Franco-Cantabrian region during the Late Glacial and Postglacial periods. In this context, the study of the genetic diversity of contemporary Basques, a population located at the epicenter of the Franco-Cantabrian region, is particularly useful because they speak a non-Indo-European language that is considered to be a linguistic isolate. In contrast with genome-wide analysis and Y chromosome data, where the problem of poor time estimates remains, a new timescale has been established for the human mtDNA and makes this genome the most informative marker for studying European prehistory. Here, we aim to increase knowledge of the origins of the Basque people and, more generally, of the role of the Franco-Cantabrian refuge in the postglacial repopulation of Europe. We thus characterize the maternal ancestry of 908 Basque and non-Basque individuals from the Basque Country and immediate adjacent regions and, by sequencing 420 complete mtDNA genomes, we focused on haplogroup H. We identified six mtDNA haplogroups, H1j1, H1t1, H2a5a1, H1av1, H3c2a, and H1e1a1, which are autochthonous to the Franco-Cantabrian region and, more specifically, to Basque-speaking populations. We detected signals of the expansion of these haplogroups at ?4,000 years before present (YBP) and estimated their separation from the pan-European gene pool at ?8,000 YBP, antedating the Indo-European arrival to the region. Our results clearly support the hypothesis of a partial genetic continuity of contemporary Basques with the preceding Paleolithic/Mesolithic settlers of their homeland.
Project description:The European genetic landscape has been shaped by several human migrations occurred since Paleolithic times. The accumulation of archaeological records and the concordance of different lines of genetic evidence during the last two decades have triggered an interesting debate concerning the role of ancient settlers from the Franco-Cantabrian region in the postglacial resettlement of Europe. Among the Franco-Cantabrian populations, Basques are regarded as one of the oldest and more intriguing human groups of Europe. Recent data on complete mitochondrial DNA genomes focused on macrohaplogroup R0 revealed that Basques harbor some autochthonous lineages, suggesting a genetic continuity since pre-Neolithic times. However, excluding haplogroup H, the most representative lineage of macrohaplogroup R0, the majority of maternal lineages of this area remains virtually unexplored, so that further refinement of the mtDNA phylogeny based on analyses at the highest level of resolution is crucial for a better understanding of the European prehistory. We thus explored the maternal ancestry of 548 autochthonous individuals from various Franco-Cantabrian populations and sequenced 76 mitogenomes of the most representative lineages. Interestingly, we identified three mtDNA haplogroups, U5b1f, J1c5c1 and V22, that proved to be representative of Franco-Cantabria, notably of the Basque population. The seclusion and diversity of these female genetic lineages support a local origin in the Franco-Cantabrian area during the Mesolithic of southwestern Europe, ~10,000 years before present (YBP), with signals of expansions at ~3,500 YBP. These findings provide robust evidence of a partial genetic continuity between contemporary autochthonous populations from the Franco-Cantabrian region, specifically the Basques, and Paleolithic/Mesolithic hunter-gatherer groups. Furthermore, our results raise the current proportion (? 15%) of the Franco-Cantabrian maternal gene pool with a putative pre-Neolithic origin to ? 35%, further supporting the notion of a predominant Paleolithic genetic substrate in extant European populations.
Project description:The Tuareg of the Fezzan region (Libya) are characterized by an extremely high frequency (61%) of haplogroup H1, a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup that is common in all Western European populations. To define how and when H1 spread from Europe to North Africa up to the Central Sahara, in Fezzan, we investigated the complete mitochondrial genomes of eleven Libyan Tuareg belonging to H1. Coalescence time estimates suggest an arrival of the European H1 mtDNAs at about 8,000-9,000 years ago, while phylogenetic analyses reveal three novel H1 branches, termed H1v, H1w and H1x, which appear to be specific for North African populations, but whose frequencies can be extremely different even in relatively close Tuareg villages. Overall, these findings support the scenario of an arrival of haplogroup H1 in North Africa from Iberia at the beginning of the Holocene, as a consequence of the improvement in climate conditions after the Younger Dryas cold snap, followed by in situ formation of local H1 sub-haplogroups. This process of autochthonous differentiation continues in the Libyan Tuareg who, probably due to isolation and recent founder events, are characterized by village-specific maternal mtDNA lineages.
Project description:The Iberian Peninsula has been the focus of attention of numerous studies dealing with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation, most of them targeting the control region segment. In the present study we sequenced the control region of 3,024 Spanish individuals from areas where available data were still limited. We also compiled mtDNA haplotypes from the literature involving 4,588 sequences and 28 population groups or small regions. We meta-analyzed all these data in order to shed further light on patterns of geographic variation, taking advantage of the large sample size and geographic coverage, in contrast with the atomized sampling strategy of previous work. The results indicate that the main mtDNA haplogroups show primarily clinal geographic patterns across the Iberian geography, roughly along a North-South axis. Haplogroup HV0 (where haplogroup U is nested) is more prevalent in the Franco Cantabrian region, in good agreement with previous findings that identified this area as a climate refuge during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), prior to a subsequent demographic re-expansion towards Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Typical sub-Saharan and North African lineages are slightly more prevalent in South Iberia, although at low frequencies; this pattern has been shaped mainly by the transatlantic slave trade and the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The results also indicate that summary statistics that aim to measure molecular variation, or AMOVA, have limited sensitivity to detect population substructure, in contrast to patterns revealed by phylogeographic analysis. Overall, the results suggest that mtDNA variation in Iberia is substantially stratified. These patterns might be relevant in biomedical studies given that stratification is a common cause of false positives in case-control mtDNA association studies, and should be also considered when weighting the DNA evidence in forensic casework, which is strongly dependent on haplotype frequencies.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The Late Glacial Maximum (LGM), ?20 thousand years ago (kya), is thought to have forced the people inhabiting vast areas of northern and central Europe to retreat to southern regions characterized by milder climatic conditions. Archaeological records indicate that Franco-Cantabria might have been the major source for the re-peopling of Europe at the beginning of the Holocene (11.5 kya). However, genetic evidence is still scarce and has been the focus of an intense debate. METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Based on a survey of more than 345,000 partial control region sequences and the analysis of 53 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes, we identified an mtDNA lineage, HV4a1a, which most likely arose in the Franco-Cantabrian area about 5.4 kya and remained confined to northern Iberia. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The HV4a1a lineage and several of its younger branches reveal for the first time genetic continuity in this region and long-term episodes of isolation. This, in turn, could at least in part explain the unique linguistic and cultural features of the Basque region.
Project description:Human populations, along with those of many other species, are thought to have contracted into a number of refuge areas at the height of the last Ice Age. European populations are believed to be, to a large extent, the descendants of the inhabitants of these refugia, and some extant mtDNA lineages can be traced to refugia in Franco-Cantabria (haplogroups H1, H3, V, and U5b1), the Italian Peninsula (U5b3), and the East European Plain (U4 and U5a). Parts of the Near East, such as the Levant, were also continuously inhabited throughout the Last Glacial Maximum, but unlike western and eastern Europe, no archaeological or genetic evidence for Late Glacial expansions into Europe from the Near East has hitherto been discovered. Here we report, on the basis of an enlarged whole-genome mitochondrial database, that a substantial, perhaps predominant, signal from mitochondrial haplogroups J and T, previously thought to have spread primarily from the Near East into Europe with the Neolithic population, may in fact reflect dispersals during the Late Glacial period, ?19-12 thousand years (ka) ago.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The Strait of Gibraltar separating the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa is thought to be a stronger barrier to gene flow for male than for female lineages. However, the recent subdivision of the haplogroup H at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) level has revealed greater genetic differentiation among geographic regions than previously detected. The dissection of the mtDNA haplogroup H in North Africa, and its comparison with the Iberian Peninsula and Near-East profiles would help clarify the relative affinities among these regions. RESULTS: Like the Iberian Peninsula, the dominant mtDNA haplogroup H subgroups in North Africa are H1 (42%) and H3 (13%). The similarity between these regions is stronger in the North-West edge affecting mainly Moroccan Arabs, West Saharans and Mauritanians, and decreases eastwards probably due to gene flow from Near East as attested for the higher frequencies of H4, H5, H7, H8 and H11 subgroups. Moroccan Berbers show stronger affinities with Tunisian and Tunisian Berbers than with Moroccan Arabs. Coalescence ages for H1 (11 +/- 2 ky) and H3 (11 +/- 4 ky) in North Africa point to the possibility of a late Palaeolithic settlement for these lineages similar to those found for other mtDNA haplogroups. Total and partial mtDNA genomic sequencing unveiled stronger mtDNA differentiation among regions than previously found using HVSI mtDNA based analysis. CONCLUSION: The subdivision of the mtDNA haplogroup H in North Africa has confirmed that the genetic differentiation found among Western and Eastern populations is mainly due to geographical rather than cultural barriers. It also shows that the historical Arabian role on the region had more a cultural than a demic effect. Whole mtDNA sequencing of identical H haplotypes based on HVSI and RFLP information has unveiled additional mtDNA differences between North African and Iberian Peninsula lineages, pointing to an older mtDNA genetic flow between regions than previously thought. Based on this new information, it seems that the Strait of Gibraltar barrier affected both male and female gene flow in a similar fashion.
Project description:Determining the timing, identity and direction of migrations in the Mediterranean Basin, the role of "migratory routes" in and among regions of Africa, Europe and Asia, and the effects of sex-specific behaviors of population movements have important implications for our understanding of the present human genetic diversity. A crucial component of the Mediterranean world is its westernmost region. Clear features of transcontinental ancient contacts between North African and Iberian populations surrounding the maritime region of Gibraltar Strait have been identified from archeological data. The attempt to discern origin and dates of migration between close geographically related regions has been a challenge in the field of uniparental-based population genetics. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) studies have been focused on surveying the H1, H3 and V lineages when trying to ascertain north-south migrations, and U6 and L in the opposite direction, assuming that those lineages are good proxies for the ancestry of each side of the Mediterranean. To this end, in the present work we have screened entire mtDNA sequences belonging to U6, M1 and L haplogroups in Andalusians--from Huelva and Granada provinces--and Moroccan Berbers. We present here pioneer data and interpretations on the role of NW Africa and the Iberian Peninsula regarding the time of origin, number of founders and expansion directions of these specific markers. The estimated entrance of the North African U6 lineages into Iberia at 10 ky correlates well with other L African clades, indicating that U6 and some L lineages moved together from Africa to Iberia in the Early Holocene. Still, founder analysis highlights that the high sharing of lineages between North Africa and Iberia results from a complex process continued through time, impairing simplistic interpretations. In particular, our work supports the existence of an ancient, frequently denied, bridge connecting the Maghreb and Andalusia.