A predominantly neolithic origin for Y-chromosomal DNA variation in North Africa

Barbara Arredi*, Estella S. Poloni, Silvia Paracchini, Tatiana Zerjal, Dahmani M. Fathallah, Mohamed Makrelouf, Vincenzo L. Pascali, Andrea Novelletto, Chris Tyler-Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We have typed 275 men from five populations in Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt with a set of 119 binary markers and 15 microsatellites from the Y chromosome, and we have analyzed the results together with published data from Moroccan populations. North African Y-chromosomal diversity is geographically structured and fits the pattern expected under an isolation-by-distance model. Autocorrelation analyses reveal an east-west cline of genetic variation that extends into the Middle East and is compatible with a hypothesis of demic expansion. This expansion must have involved relatively small numbers of Y chromosomes to account for the reduction in gene diversity towards the West that accompanied the frequency increase of Y haplogroup E3b2, but gene flow must have been maintained to explain the observed pattern of isolation-by-distance. Since the estimates of the times to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCAs) of the most common haplogroups are quite recent, we suggest that the North African pattern of Y-chromosomal variation is largely of Neolithic origin. Thus, we propose that the Neolithic transition in this part of the world was accompanied by demic diffusion of Afro-Asiatic-speaking pastoralists from the Middle East.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Volume75
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004

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