Annals of Human Genetics doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2008.00493.x
The Complex and Diversified Mitochondrial Gene Pool of Berber Populations
C. Coudray et al.
The mitochondrial DNA variation of 295 Berber-speakers from Morocco (Asni, Bouhria and Figuig) and the Egyptian oasis of Siwa was evaluated by sequencing a portion of the control region (including HVS-I and part of HVS-II) and surveying haplogroup-specific coding region markers. Our findings show that the Berber mitochondrial pool is characterized by an overall high frequency of Western Eurasian haplogroups, a somehow lower frequency of sub-Saharan L lineages, and a significant (but differential) presence of North African haplogroups U6 and M1, thus occupying an intermediate position between European and sub-Saharan populations in PCA analysis. A clear and significant genetic differentiation between the Berbers from Maghreb and Egyptian Berbers was also observed. The first are related to European populations as shown by haplogroup H1 and V frequencies, whereas the latter share more affinities with East African and Nile Valley populations as indicated by the high frequency of M1 and the presence of L0a1, L3i, L4*, and L4b2 lineages. Moreover, haplogroup U6 was not observed in Siwa. We conclude that the origins and maternal diversity of Berber populations are old and complex, and these communities bear genetic characteristics resulting from various events of gene flow with surrounding and migrating populations.