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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2003 Apr;120(4):391-404.

Mitochondrial DNA affinities at the Atlantic fringe of Europe.

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Departamento de Genética, Universidad de La Laguna, 38271 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.


Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Atlantic European samples has detected significant latitudinal clines for several clusters with Paleolithic (H) and Neolithic (J, U4, U5a1, and U5a1a) coalescence ages in Europe. These gradients may be explained as the result of Neolithic influence on a rather homogeneous Paleolithic background. There is also evidence that some Neolithic clusters reached this border by a continental route (J, J1, J1a, U5a1, and U5a1a), whereas others (J2) did so through the Mediterranean coast. An important gene flow from Africa was detected in the Atlantic Iberia. Specific sub-Saharan lineages appeared mainly restricted to southern Portugal, and could be attributed to historic Black slave trade in the area and to a probable Saharan Neolithic influence. In fact, U6 haplotypes of specific North African origin have only been detected in the Iberian peninsula northwards from central Portugal. Based on this peculiar distribution and the high diversity pi value (0.014 +/- 0.001) in this area compared to North Africa (0.006 +/- 0.001), we reject the proposal that only historic events such as the Moslem occupation are the main cause of this gene flow, and instead propose a pre-Neolithic origin for it.

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