Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Jan;66(1):262-78.

Erratum in:
Am J Hum Genet 2000 Mar;66(3):1185.

Comment in:
Am J Hum Genet. 2000 Mar;66(3):1173-7.

Geographic patterns of mtDNA diversity in Europe.

Simoni L, Calafell F, Pettener D, Bertranpetit J, Barbujani G.

Department of Evolutionary and Experimental Biology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Genetic diversity in Europe has been interpreted as a reflection of phenomena occurring during the Paleolithic ( approximately 45,000 years before the present [BP]), Mesolithic ( approximately 18,000 years BP), and Neolithic ( approximately 10,000 years BP) periods. A crucial role of the Neolithic demographic transition is supported by the analysis of most nuclear loci, but the interpretation of mtDNA evidence is controversial. More than 2,600 sequences of the first hypervariable mitochondrial control region were analyzed for geographic patterns in samples from Europe, the Near East, and the Caucasus. Two autocorrelation statistics were used, one based on allele-frequency differences between samples and the other based on both sequence and frequency differences between alleles. In the global analysis, limited geographic patterning was observed, which could largely be attributed to a marked difference between the Saami and all other populations. The distribution of the zones of highest mitochondrial variation (genetic boundaries) confirmed that the Saami are sharply differentiated from an otherwise rather homogeneous set of European samples. However, an area of significant clinal variation was identified around the Mediterranean Sea (and not in the north), even though the differences between northern and southern populations were insignificant. Both a Paleolithic expansion and the Neolithic demic diffusion of farmers could have determined a longitudinal cline of mtDNA diversity. However, additional phenomena must be considered in both models, to account both for the north-south differences and for the greater geographic scope of clinical patterns at nuclear loci. Conversely, two predicted consequences of models of Mesolithic reexpansion from glacial refugia were not observed in the present study.