A new paper on mtDNA H1 has been published, detailing its presence and phylogeny in Africa.
Claudio Ottoni et al., Mitochondrial Haplogroup H1 in North Africa: An Early Holocene Arrival from Iberia. PLoS ONE 2010. Open Access. [LINK]
They ratify that African H1 is, as its sisters, of ‘Iberian’ (SW European) derivation (something known at least for Tunisia since last year, see Cherni 2009) . They also add some detail on its phylogeny and frequencies.
Maybe most notable is the high frequency (but low diversity) of the lineage found among Libyan Tuaregs, telling of some sort of specific founder effect.
Of some interest is the description of three novel sublineages: H1v, H1w and H1x, all them almost exclusive of Lybian Tuaregs (see fig. 1).
|Fig. 2 Frequency of mtDNA H1|
The authors make the leit motiv of this paper their molecular clock estimates, which they calculate between 3400 and 11,500 years ago for all H1. If anybody needed further evidence of why the molecular clock methods are unreliable this is it: the only way Europe could have got a meaningful genetic influence on North Africa (and we are talking here c. 25% of the maternal ancestry, not counting K nor V) in this period would have been the Megalithic phenomenon. However, if that would be the case, where is the Y-DNA?
The only comparable Y-DNA is R1b1b2a2, which does exist in North Africa (along with some fossil I found in Guanches), looks of European origin too, but is found at much smaller frequencies (and lower diversity) than in Europe. There are no possible inputs between Megalithism and present day, as we know that Roman and Islamic conquests had minimal demic impact (nor they look likely origins for the dominant Y-DNA E1b1b1).
Additionally there is reasonably clear evidence of the existance of mtDNA H (and in general similar frequencies as today) at Taforalt some 12,000 years ago (Kefi 2005), which argues for an older arrival, surely at the genesis of Oranian culture, in the LGM.
Only the Oranian time-frame really seems to explain the deep and extended penetration of Iberian DNA in North Africa.
R. Kéfi et al., Diversité mitochondriale de la population de Taforalt (12.000 ans bp – maroc): une approche génétique a l’étude du peuplement de l’afrique du nord. Anthropologie 2005. [PPT presentation direct download – Institut Pasteur]
L. Cherni et al., Post-last glacial maximum expansion from Iberia to North Africa revealed by fine characterization of mtDNA H haplogroup in Tunisia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Pay per view. [LINK]
H. Enafaa, V. M. Cabrera et al., Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup H structure in North Africa. BMC Genetics 2009. Open Access. [LINK]
For papers on H but not specifically related to Africa, see this post at Leherensuge (April 2009).