February 15, 2008

News on Arabian mtDNA

Not one but two recent paper on Arabian mtDNA, giving us a better idea of its geographical structure. I am not sure what to make of the assertion in the first paper that the Arabian peninsula has been the recipient of genetic input from Australia; well, it's in an open access journal so you can form your own opinions.

BMC Evol Biol. 2008 Feb 12;8(1):45 [Epub ahead of print]

Mitochondrial DNA structure in the Arabian Peninsula.

Abu-Amero KK, Larruga JM, Cabrera VM, Gonzalez AM.

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Two potential migratory routes followed by modern humans to colonize Eurasia from Africa have been proposed. These are the two natural passageways that connect both continents: the northern route through the Sinai Peninsula and the southern route across the Bab al Mandab strait. Recent archaeological and genetic evidence have favored a unique southern coastal route. Under this scenario, the study of the population genetic structure of the Arabian Peninsula, the first step out of Africa, to search for primary genetic links between Africa and Eurasia, is crucial. The haploid and maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecule has been the most used genetic marker to identify and to relate lineages with clear geographic origins, as the African Ls and the Eurasian M and N that have a common root with the Africans L3. RESULTS: To assess the role of the Arabian Peninsula in the southern route, we genetically analyzed 553 Saudi Arabs using partial (546) and complete mtDNA (7) sequencing, and compared the lineages obtained with those present in Africa, the Near East, central, east and southeast Asia and Australasia. The results showed that the Arabian Peninsula has received substantial gene flow from Africa (20%), detected by the presence of L, M1 and U6 lineages; that an 18% of the Arabian Peninsula lineages have a clear eastern provenance, mainly represented by U lineages; but also by Indian M lineages and rare M links with Central Asia, Indonesia and even Australia. However, the bulk (62%) of the Arabian lineages has a Northern source. CONCLUSIONS: Although there is evidence of Neolithic and more recent expansions in the Arabian Peninsula, mainly detected by (preHV)1 and J1b lineages, the lack of primitive autochthonous M and N sequences, suggests that this area has been more a receptor of human migrations, including historic ones, from Africa, India, Indonesia and even Australia, than a demographic expansion center along the proposed southern coastal route.


Am J Phys Anthropol. 2008 Feb 6 [Epub ahead of print]

Regional differences in the distribution of the sub-Saharan, West Eurasian, and South Asian mtDNA lineages in Yemen.

Cerný V et al.

Despite its key location for population movements out of and back into Africa, Yemen has not yet been sampled on a regional level for an investigation of sub-Saharan, West Eurasian, and South Asian genetic contributions. In this study, we present mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data for regionally distinct Yemeni populations that reveal different distributions of mtDNA lineages. An extensive database of mtDNA sequences from North and East African, Middle Eastern and Indian populations was analyzed to provide a context for the regional Yemeni mtDNA datasets. The groups of western Yemen appear to be most closely related to Middle Eastern and North African populations, while the eastern Yemeni population from Hadramawt is most closely related to East Africa. Furthermore, haplotype matches with Africa are almost exclusively confined to West Eurasian R0a haplogroup in southwestern Yemen, although more sub-Saharan L-type matches appear in more northern Yemeni populations. In fact, Yemeni populations have the highest frequency of R0a haplotypes detected to date, thus Yemen or southern Arabia may be the site of the initial expansion of this haplogroup. Whereas two variants of the sub-Saharan haplogroup M1 were detected only in southwestern Yemen close to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, different non-African M haplotypes were detected at low frequencies ( approximately 2%) in western parts of the country and at a higher frequency (7.5%) in the Hadramawt. We conclude that the Yemeni gene pool is highly stratified both regionally and temporally and that it has received West Eurasian, Northeast African, and South Asian gene flow.



Unknown said...


This study is only about the maternal line of Yemeni.

Berber is not a semitic language, and did not originate in the near east. These studies show affinities between various peopulations and do not imply that one descends from the other.

Unknown said...

Frankly, I don't know what do these clustering exercises reveal that isn't already known.

Populations who live close to each other must have affinities; not to mention the slave trade from east Africa into the Arabian peninsula and the Arab expansion into northern Africa.