Friday, December 9, 2022

New mtDNA Clade Discovered

I missed this paper when it came out, but found it now that it has won an editor's choice award, as one of its authors explained as their blog.

As background, the Sandawe people in whom the new clade is found, are East African desert/savanna hunter-gatherers who speak a click language, while the Mbuti people, in whom the sister mtDNA clade L5 is found, are African pygmies found in the Congo jungle (their ancestral language was lost,  mostly to Bantu languages, before it was ever attested).

Archaeological and genomic evidence suggest that modern Homo sapiens have roamed the planet for some 300–500 thousand years. In contrast, global human mitochondrial (mtDNA) diversity coalesces to one African female ancestor (“Mitochondrial Eve”) some 145 thousand years ago, owing to the ¼ gene pool size of our matrilineally inherited haploid genome. Therefore, most of human prehistory was spent in Africa where early ancestors of Southern African Khoisan and Central African rainforest hunter-gatherers (RFHGs) segregated into smaller groups. Their subdivisions followed climatic oscillations, new modes of subsistence, local adaptations, and cultural-linguistic differences, all prior to their exodus out of Africa. Seven African mtDNA haplogroups (L0–L6) traditionally captured this ancient structure—these L haplogroups have formed the backbone of the mtDNA tree for nearly two decades. 
Here we describe L7, an eighth haplogroup that we estimate to be ~ 100 thousand years old and which has been previously misclassified in the literature. In addition, L7 has a phylogenetic sublineage L7a*, the oldest singleton branch in the human mtDNA tree (~ 80 thousand years). We found that L7 and its sister group L5 are both low-frequency relics centered around East Africa, but in different populations (L7: Sandawe; L5: Mbuti). Although three small subclades of African foragers hint at the population origins of L5'7, the majority of subclades are divided into Afro-Asiatic and eastern Bantu groups, indicative of more recent admixture. A regular re-estimation of the entire mtDNA haplotype tree is needed to ensure correct cladistic placement of new samples in the future.
Maier, P.A., Runfeldt, G., Estes, R.J. et al. "African mitochondrial haplogroup L7: a 100,000-year-old maternal human lineage discovered through reassessment and new sequencing." Sci Rep 12, 10747 (June 22, 2022) (open access).

1 comment:

Darayvus said...

It seems to me they could have had the same result, with less hype, if they'd just redefined L5 to include the known L5, with this "L7" as a subset.
But then, as a descendant of a "K" grandfather, I would have preferred they'd said U8k which it is.