Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Mauritania and Mali and their Genetic Relationship to Other Western Africa Populations.
A M González, V M Cabrera, J M Larruga, A Tounkara, G Noumsi, B N Thomas, J M Moulds
Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation was analyzed in Mauritania and Mali, and compared to other West African samples covering the considerable geographic, ethnic and linguistic diversity of this region. The Mauritanian mtDNA profile shows that 55% of their lineages have a west Eurasian provenance, with the U6 cluster (17%) being the best represented. Only 6% of the sub-Saharan sequences belong to the L3A haplogroup a frequency similar to other Berber speaking groups but significantly different to the Arabic speaking North Africans. The historic Arab slave trade may be the main cause of this difference. Only one HV west Eurasian lineage has been detected in Mali but 40% of the sub-Saharan sequences belong to cluster L3A. The presence of L0a representatives demonstrates gene flow from eastern regions. Although both groups speak related dialects of the Mande branch, significant genetic differences exist between the Bambara and Malinke groups. The West African genetic variation is well structured by geography and language, but more detailed ethnolinguistic clustering suggest that geography is the main factor responsible for this differentiation.