The Expansion of mtDNA Haplogroup L3 within and out of Africa

Pedro Soares, Farida Alshamali, Joana B. Pereira, Verónica Fernandes, Nuno M. Silva, Carla Afonso, Marta D. Costa, Eliska Musilová, Vincent MacAulay, Martin B. Richards, Viktor Černý, Luísa Pereira

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133 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although fossil remains show that anatomically modern humans dispersed out of Africa into the Near East ∼100 to 130 ka, genetic evidence from extant populations has suggested that non-Africans descend primarily from a single successful later migration. Within the human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tree, haplogroup L3 encompasses not only many sub-Saharan Africans but also all ancient non-African lineages, and its age therefore provides an upper bound for the dispersal out of Africa. An analysis of 369 complete African L3 sequences places this maximum at ∼70 ka, virtually ruling out a successful exit before 74 ka, the date of the Toba volcanic supereruption in Sumatra. The similarity of the age of L3 to its two non-African daughter haplogroups, M and N, suggests that the same process was likely responsible for both the L3 expansion in Eastern Africa and the dispersal of a small group of modern humans out of Africa to settle the rest of the world. The timing of the expansion of L3 suggests a link to improved climatic conditions after ∼70 ka in Eastern and Central Africa rather than to symbolically mediated behavior, which evidently arose considerably earlier. The L3 mtDNA pool within Africa suggests a migration from Eastern Africa to Central Africa ∼60 to 35 ka and major migrations in the immediate postglacial again linked to climate. The largest population size increase seen in the L3 data is 3-4 ka in Central Africa, corresponding to Bantu expansions, leading diverse L3 lineages to spread into Eastern and Southern Africa in the last 3-2 ka.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-927
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Volume29
Issue number3
Early online date16 Nov 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

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Soares, P., Alshamali, F., Pereira, J. B., Fernandes, V., Silva, N. M., Afonso, C., ... Pereira, L. (2012). The Expansion of mtDNA Haplogroup L3 within and out of Africa. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29(3), 915-927. https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msr245