Background: Since prehistoric times Southern Italy has been a cultural crossroads of the Mediterranean basin. Genetic data on the peoples of Basilicata and Calabria are scarce and, particularly, no records on mtDNA variability have been published.
Aim: In this study mtDNA haplotypes of populations from Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily are compared with those of other Italian and Mediterranean populations, so as to investigate their genetic relationships.
Subjects and methods: A total of 341 individuals was analysed for mtDNA in order to provide their classification into haplogroups. Multivariate analysis was used to compare the studied populations with other Mediterranean samples; median-joining network analysis was applied to observe the relationship between the major lineages of the Southern Italians.
Results: The haplogroup distribution in the Southern Italian samples falls within the typical pattern of mtDNA variability of Western Eurasia. The comparison with other Mediterranean countries showed a substantial homogeneity of the area, which is probably related to the historic contact through the Mediterranean Sea.
Conclusion: The mtDNA analysis demonstrated that Southern Italy displays a typical pattern of Mediterranean basin variability, even though it appears plausible that Southern Italy was less affected by the effects of the Late Glacial Maximum, which reduced genetic diversity in Europe.