November 18, 2004

mtDNA of Hmong-Mien

Molecular Biology and Evolution, doi:10.1093/molbev/msi055

Genetic Structure of Hmong-Mien Speaking Populations in East Asia as Revealed by mtDNA Lineages

Bo Wen et al.


Hmong-Mien (H-M) is a major language family in East Asia, and its speakers distribute primarily in southern China and Southeast Asia. To date, genetic studies on H-M speaking populations are virtually absent in the literatures. In this report, we analyzed genetic variations in the mtDNA HVS1 region and diagnostic variants in the coding regions in 537 individuals sampled from 17 H-M populations across East Asia. The results showed that the haplogroups that are predominant in the southern East Asia including B, R9, N9a, and M7 account for 63% (ranging from 45% to 90%) of mtDNAs in H-M populations. Furthermore, AMOVA, phylogenetic tree and principal component (PC) analysis demonstrate closer relatedness between H-M and other southern East Asians, suggesting a general southern origin of maternal lineages in the H-M populations. The estimated ages of the mtDNA lineages that are specific to H-M coincide with those based on archeological cultures that have been associated with H-M. Analysis of genetic distance and phylogenetic tree indicated some extent of difference between the Hmong and Mien populations. Together with the higher frequency of north-dominating lineages observed in the Hmong people, it is indicated that the Hmong populations had experienced more contact with the northern East Asians, consistent with historical evidence. Moreover, our data defined some new (sub-)haplogroups (A6, B4e, B4f, C5, F1a1, F1a1a, and R9c), which will direct further efforts to improve the phylogeny of East Asian mtDNAs.


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