Sicilian mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis in Sicily.

Vona G, Ghiani ME, Calò CM, Vacca L, Memmì M, Varesi L.

Department of Experimental Biology, Section of Anthropological Sciences, University of Cagliari, Monserrato, Italy. This study reports data on the sequences of the first hypervariable segment of a sample of the Sicilian population from Alia (Palermo, Italy). The results show the presence of 32 different haplotypes in the 49 individuals examined. The average number of pairwise nucleotide differences was 4.04, i.e., 1.17% per nucleotide. The distribution of the nucleotide differences matches the theoretical distribution and indicates only one major episode of expansion that occurred between 20,732 and 59,691 years ago, between the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic. Compared with the other populations, parameters of the Sicilian sample lie in an intermediate position between the eastern and western Mediterranean populations. This is due to numerous contacts that Sicily has had with the Mediterranean area since prehistoric times. At the same time, the singularity of some of the haplotypes present in the sample studied indicates the persistence of some characteristics caused by genetic drift and isolation that the population has endured in the course of its history.

This shows no African Mt DNA in Sicily, which disagrees with an older study

Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in Italy. III. Population data from Sicily: a possible quantitation of maternal African ancestry
Semino et al. (1989)

mtDNA polymorphisms were studied in a sample of 90 individuals of the Sicilian population using six restriction enzymes: HpaI, BamHI, HaeII, MspI, AvaII and HincII. … Of particular interest is that the HpaI-3/AvaII-3 complex, which is unique to groups of African ancestry, was found in Sicily at a frequency of 4.4%. For the first time an estimate of the amount of gene flow from Blacks to the Sicilian gene pool could be obtained.

Taking the more recent study to be the more accurate (it usually works out that way) the North African admixture in Sicily is about 3% (Y chromosomes at 5-6%), sub Saharan ancestry nil.

One response to “Sicilian mitochondrial DNA

  1. Thanks for posting this. So assuming this recent study is the most accurate, Sicilians really have very little North African admixture.

    With respect to the Greek contribution to the Sicilian gene pool, I believe the Y-chromosome figure was in the range of 37% if I’m not mistaken. What about the mtDNA contribution from Greeks? According to some historical sources I’ve come across, the Greeks were one of the few groups that settled in Sicily to have brought large numbers of women with them. Most of the other notable immigrations to Sicily involved primarily men.

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