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, 8 (2), e56775

Introducing the Algerian Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome Profiles Into the North African Landscape


Introducing the Algerian Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome Profiles Into the North African Landscape

Asmahan Bekada et al. PLoS One.


North Africa is considered a distinct geographic and ethnic entity within Africa. Although modern humans originated in this Continent, studies of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome genealogical markers provide evidence that the North African gene pool has been shaped by the back-migration of several Eurasian lineages in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. More recent influences from sub-Saharan Africa and Mediterranean Europe are also evident. The presence of East-West and North-South haplogroup frequency gradients strongly reinforces the genetic complexity of this region. However, this genetic scenario is beset with a notable gap, which is the lack of consistent information for Algeria, the largest country in the Maghreb. To fill this gap, we analyzed a sample of 240 unrelated subjects from a northwest Algeria cosmopolitan population using mtDNA sequences and Y-chromosome biallelic polymorphisms, focusing on the fine dissection of haplogroups E and R, which are the most prevalent in North Africa and Europe respectively. The Eurasian component in Algeria reached 80% for mtDNA and 90% for Y-chromosome. However, within them, the North African genetic component for mtDNA (U6 and M1; 20%) is significantly smaller than the paternal (E-M81 and E-V65; 70%). The unexpected presence of the European-derived Y-chromosome lineages R-M412, R-S116, R-U152 and R-M529 in Algeria and the rest of the Maghreb could be the counterparts of the mtDNA H1, H3 and V subgroups, pointing to direct maritime contacts between the European and North African sides of the western Mediterranean. Female influx of sub-Saharan Africans into Algeria (20%) is also significantly greater than the male (10%). In spite of these sexual asymmetries, the Algerian uniparental profiles faithfully correlate between each other and with the geography.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Simplified phylogenetic trees for Y-chromosome sub-haplogroups.
A) E-M78 and B) M-R343.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Graphical relationships among the studied populations.
PCA plots based on mtDNA (a) and Y-chromosome (b) polymorphism. Codes are as in Supplementary Tables S2 and S6.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Reduced median network relating HVS-1 sequences of subhaplogroup M1.
The central motif (haplotype HT1) differs from rCRS , at position 16129 16189 16223 16249 16311. Population codes as in Supplementary Table S2. Numbers along links refer to nucleotide positions minus 16000; suffix indicates a transversion. Black circles correspond to haplotypes observed in Algeria, whereas grey triangles pentagons correspond to lineages found in Egypt. Haplotype observed both in Algeria and Egypt are indicated using a black triangle. Grey circles indicate haplotypes observed in other geographical regions. Size of boxes is proportional to the number of individuals included. HT1 = 13 ALG, 17 ARP, 2 BAL, 8 EGY, 5 IP, 5 ISS, 2 LIB, 18 MOR, 13 TUN, TuAn; HT2 = 6 ALG, ARP, BAL, IRN, LEQ, 2 LIB, 3 MOR, SAM, 2 TUN; HT3 = 2 ALG, ARP, LEQ, 2 MOR; HT4 = 3 ALG, 2 EGY, 3 IP, 2MOR; HT5 = 14 ARP, 3 BAL, 3 CAU, 10 EGY, 4 IP, IRN, 7 ISS, 4 LEQ, 2 LIB, 6 MOR; HT6 = ARP, 16 EGY.

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Grant support

This research was supported by Grant no. CGL2010–16195 from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación to AMG and JML, by grant “Ayuda para el mantenimiento de grupos de investigación consolidados 2012” from the University of La Laguna to AMG, and by Algerian grant to BA “programme boursier de formation à l'étranger au titre de l'année universitaire 2010–2011 pour la catégorie PNE.” The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.