Genetic signatures from the Paleolithic inhabitants of Eurasia can be traced from the early divergent mitochondrial DNA lineages still present in contemporary human populations. Previous studies already suggested a pre-Neolithic diffusion of mitochondrial haplogroup HV∗(xH,V) lineages, a relatively rare class of mtDNA types that includes parallel branches mainly distributed across Europe and West Asia with a certain degree of structure. Up till now, variation within haplogroup HV was addressed mainly by analyzing sequence data from the mtDNA control region, except for specific sub-branches, such as HV4 or the widely distributed haplogroups H and V. In this study, we present a revised HV topology based on full mtDNA genome data, and we include a comprehensive dataset consisting of 316 complete mtDNA sequences including 60 new samples from the Italian peninsula, a previously underrepresented geographic area. We highlight points of instability in the particular topology of this haplogroup, reconstructed with BEAST-generated trees and networks. We also confirm a major lineage expansion that probably followed the Late Glacial Maximum and preceded Neolithic population movements. We finally observe that Italy harbors a reservoir of mtDNA diversity, with deep-rooting HV lineages often related to sequences present in the Caucasus and the Middle East. The resulting hypothesis of a glacial refugium in Southern Italy has implications for the understanding of late Paleolithic population movements and is discussed within the archaeological cultural shifts occurred over the entire continent.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)