Mitochondrial DNA Signals of Late Glacial Recolonization of Europe from Near Eastern Refugia

Maria Pala, Anna Olivieri, Alessandro Achilli, Matteo Accetturo, Ene Metspalu, Maere Reidla, Erika Tamm, Monika Karmin, Tuuli Reisberg, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani, Ugo A. Perego, Valeria Carossa, Francesca Gandini, Joana B. Pereira, Pedro Soares, Norman Angerhofer, Sergei Rychkov, Nadia Al-Zahery, Valerio Carelli, Mohammad Hossein SanatiMassoud Houshmand, Jiři Hatina, Vincent MacAulay, Luísa Pereira, Scott R. Woodward, William Davies, Clive Gamble, Douglas Baird, Ornella Semino, Richard Villems, Antonio Torroni, Martin B. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


Human populations, along with those of many other species, are thought to have contracted into a number of refuge areas at the height of the last Ice Age. European populations are believed to be, to a large extent, the descendants of the inhabitants of these refugia, and some extant mtDNA lineages can be traced to refugia in Franco-Cantabria (haplogroups H1, H3, V, and U5b1), the Italian Peninsula (U5b3), and the East European Plain (U4 and U5a). Parts of the Near East, such as the Levant, were also continuously inhabited throughout the Last Glacial Maximum, but unlike western and eastern Europe, no archaeological or genetic evidence for Late Glacial expansions into Europe from the Near East has hitherto been discovered. Here we report, on the basis of an enlarged whole-genome mitochondrial database, that a substantial, perhaps predominant, signal from mitochondrial haplogroups J and T, previously thought to have spread primarily from the Near East into Europe with the Neolithic population, may in fact reflect dispersals during the Late Glacial period, ∼19-12 thousand years (ka) ago.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-924
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number5
Early online date3 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2012


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