Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup H structure in North Africa
The Strait of Gibraltar separating the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa is thought to be a stronger barrier to gene flow for male than for female lineages. However, the recent subdivision of the haplogroup H at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) level has revealed greater genetic differentiation among geographic regions than previously detected. The dissection of the mtDNA haplogroup H in North Africa, and its comparison with the Iberian Peninsula and Near-East profiles would help clarify the relative affinities among these regions.
Like the Iberian Peninsula, the dominant mtDNA haplogroup H subgroups in North Africa are H1 (42%) and H3 (13%). The similarity between these regions is stronger in the North-West edge affecting mainly Moroccan Arabs, West Saharans and Mauritanians, and decreases eastwards probably due to gene flow from Near East as attested for the higher frequencies of H4, H5, H7, H8 and H11 subgroups. Moroccan Berbers show stronger affinities with Tunisian and Tunisian Berbers than with Moroccan Arabs. Coalescence ages for H1 (11 ± 2 ky) and H3 (11 ± 4 ky) in North Africa point to the possibility of a late Palaeolithic settlement for these lineages similar to those found for other mtDNA haplogroups. Total and partial mtDNA genomic sequencing unveiled stronger mtDNA differentiation among regions than previously found using HVSI mtDNA based analysis.
The subdivision of the mtDNA haplogroup H in North Africa has confirmed that the genetic differentiation found among Western and Eastern populations is mainly due to geographicalrather than cultural barriers. It also shows that the historicalArabian role on the region had more a cultural than a demic effect. Whole mtDNAsequencing of identical H haplotypes based on HVSI and RFLP information has unveiled additional mtDNA differences between North African and Iberian Peninsula lineages, pointing to an older mtDNA genetic flow between regions than previously thought. Based on this new information, it seems that the Strait of Gibraltar barrier affected both male and female gene flow in a similar fashion.
Pay dirt! I’ve been looking for some kind of study into H in North Africa ever since I saw the Taforalt A-DNA study and noticed the H in it. I was curious how the H appeared in North African Ibero- Maurasian bones before the Capsian era (which seems to be near Eastern in origin) if H doesn’t show the same time depth as X1, U and M1 in North Africa. This allows for the Taforalt remains to have some relatively recent input from the near east, which explains the lesser time depth for H but it’s presence in the 12,000 year old Moroccan bones. Thank you Biomed.
Selected quotes for my own reference:
A principal component analysis (PCA) points to subhaplogroups H1 and H3 as being primarily responsible for the Iberian-Moroccan-Saharan connection, whereas H4, H5, H7, H8 and H11 testify the Near East influence
Thus, our HVSI based coalescence ages for H1 (14.2 ± 3.0 ky) and H3 (10.3 ± 2.6 ky), in the Iberian Peninsula, are very close to those published by Pereira et al.  in the same area for H1 (14.0 ± 3.0 ky) and for all of Europe for H3 (11.0 ± 3.0 ky)
From our data, it can be also deduced that the presence of the H1 and H3 subgroups in North Africa could have similar expansion times as in Europe and, therefore, a late Palaeolithic settlement in the region.
As a consequence, it has been proposed that the North African gene pool has had Palaeolithic and Neolithic influences from the East, but that the impact of the historicalinvasions, such as the Arabic role, had more a cultural than a demic effect. The lack of exclusive haplotypic matches between North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula found here is in accordance with that hypothesis.
The H here seems to have the same time depth as the Y chromosome J-m267 in North Africa, so I’m going to assume they made the trip from the near East together. this seems to match the expansion of the ‘escargotiere’ people who ate massive amounts of edible snails, who seem to have an origin somewhere between Southern Turkey and the Levant.