The Making of the African mtDNA Landscape

The Making of the African mtDNA Landscape

Africa presents the most complex genetic picture of any continent, with a time depth for mitochondrial DNA
(mtDNA) lineages 1100,000 years. The most recent widespread demographic shift within the continent was most probably the Bantu dispersals, which archaeological and linguistic evidence suggest originated in West Africa 3,000–4,000 years ago, spreading both east and south. Here, we have carried out a thorough phylogeographic analysis of mtDNA variation in a total of 2,847 samples from throughout the continent, including 307 new sequences from southeast African Bantu speakers. The results suggest that the southeast Bantu speakers have a composite origin on the maternal line of descent, with ~44% of lineages deriving from West Africa, ~21% from either West or Central Africa, ~30% from East Africa, and ~5% from southern African Khoisan-speaking groups. The ages of the major founder types of both West and East African origin are consistent with the likely timing of Bantu dispersals, with those from the west somewhat predating those from the east. Despite this composite picture, the southeastern African Bantu groups are indistinguishable from each other with respect to their mtDNA, suggesting that they either had a common origin at the point of entry into southeastern Africa or have undergone very extensive gene flow since.

An old paper from 2002 that I’m posting for reference while I’m hunting down info on L3a.

Paragroup L3A
We here define two previously unlabeled subclades of L3A, L3f, and L3g. The lineages remaining within L3* represent ~20% of all L3A types in Africa. Although they are distributed throughout the continent, they reach the highest frequencies in East Africa, where they account for about half of all types from this region. This frequency profile suggests an origin for L3 in East Africa (Watson et al. 1997). This is supported by the evidence that the out-of-Africa migration, which took place from a source in East Africa 60,000–80,000 years ago, gave rise only to L3 lineages outside Africa.

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