Leg Med (Tokyo). 2003 Mar;5 Suppl 1:S173-6.

Variability of mitochondrial DNA in a population sample from Iceland.

Wittig H, Aschenbrenner A, Poetsch M, Krause D, Lignitz E.

Institute of Forensic Medicine, Magdeburg University, Leipziger Strasse 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany. holger.wittig@medizin.uni-magdeburg.de

Over the past decade investigations of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have considerably contributed to our knowledge about human evolution and migration. The genome of the Icelandic population is of special interest since Iceland has been genetically isolated for centuries. The sequence of the hypervariable regions HVS-I and HVS-II of the mtDNA control region was generated for 100 Icelandic individuals. A total of 75 different mtDNA sequences were observed, of which 19 sequences were shared by more than one individual, 16 sequences were shared by two individuals and two sequences were shared by three individuals; the most frequent haplotype (16129 A, 16239 T, 00263 G and 00315.1 C) was found six times. Both the genetic diversity (0.9925+/-0.0031) and the average number of pairwise nucleotide differences (7.371) were comparable with most of the other European populations. However, we found a smaller number of distinct mitochondrial lineages, suggesting that founder effects and genetic drift may have exerted a visible influence on the Icelandic genetic diversity. We compared these data with 1400 other European sequences from the D-Loop-BASE database. The paper discusses the evolutionary relationship between Icelandic and Central European mtDNA under due consideration of the historical context. Finally, our study has been aimed at increasing the number of mtDNA sequences available throughout the world and contributing to human genome investigations.