Mitochondrial Footprints of Human Expansions in Africa

Elizabeth Watson, Peter Forster, Martin Richards, Hans Jürgen Bandelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

299 Citations (Scopus)


mtDNA studies support an African origin for modern Eurasians, but expansion events within Africa have not previously been investigated. We have therefore analyzed 407 mtDNA control-region sequences from 13 African ethnic groups. A number of sequences (13%) were highly divergent and coalesced on the 'mitochondrial Eve' in Africans. The remaining sequences also ultimately coalesced on this sequence but fell into four major clusters whose starlike phylogenies testify to demographic expansions. The oldest of these African expansions dates to ~60,000-80,000 years ago. Eurasian sequences are derived from essentially one sequence within this ancient cluster, even though a diverse mitochondrial pool was present in Africa at the time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-704
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1997
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Mitochondrial Footprints of Human Expansions in Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this