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Nebuchadnezzar II
09-05-2018, 11:14 AM
First genetic data from the Holocene Green Sahara – new insights into the human mitochondrial phylogeny
S. Vai1
, S. Sarno2
, M. Lari1
, D. Luiselli3
, G. Manzi4
, M. Gallinaro5
, S. Mataich1,2, A. Hübner6
, A. Modi1
, E. Pilli1
, M. A. Tafuri4
D. Caramelli1
, S. Di Lernia5,7
1
University of Florence, Department of Biology, Firenze, Italy
2
University of Bologna, Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Bologna, Italy
3
University of Bologna, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali, Ravenna, Italy
4
Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Environmental Biology, Roma, Italy
5
Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Ancient World Studies, Roma, Italy
6
Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department Evolutionary Genetics, Leipzig, Germany
7
University of the Witwatersrand, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ancient DNA studies give us the possibility to directly observe the genetic variation through time and to explore the history of
anatomically modern human populations with a high level of resolution. While genetic data from a high number of individuals
are available for almost all the geographical areas in Eurasia covering a wide temporal range, information from Africa is limited
due to climate conditions that are not favourable to the DNA preservation in most of the continent. For this reason, the
knowledge of African genetic variability was restricted to modern data until recently, when studies focused on samples from
south and east Africa, Egypt and Morocco were published. Filling the gaps in space and time is extremely important since
present-day genetic variability could not properly reflect the past situation: different population genetics dynamics may have
occurred in different times and with specific regional impacts, modifying haplotype distribution and frequencies. Here we
present the first genetic data for the Saharan region, characterized by severe climate oscillations that could have driven
population expansion and contractions, migrations, admixture or isolation in the past. We analysed two ~7000-year-old female
individuals with signs of natural mummification from Takarkori Rockshelter, Libya. The mitochondrial genomes show a novel
mutation motif phylogenetically linked to the haplogroup N root. The divergence of this haplogroup from L3 lineage is
commonly dated around 50-65 ka, probably located in the Arabian Peninsula and linked to the exit of AMH from Africa. The
presence of this haplotype in Takarkori can represent a past relic of an African origin of haplogroup N or a trace of an ancient
migration from Eurasia not previously documented. Our finding highlights the importance to increase genetic data for past
African populations in order to detect lineages nowadays possibly disappeared or whose geographical distribution and
frequencies changed during time.

Sorry - posted in wrong section