Background: Comparisons of maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and paternally-inherited non-recombining Y chromosome (NRY) variation have provided important insights into the impact of sex-biased processes (such as migration, residence pattern, and so on) on human genetic variation. However, such comparisons have been limited by the different molecular methods typically used to assay mtDNA and NRY variation (for example, sequencing hypervariable segments of the control region for mtDNA vs. genotyping SNPs and/or STR loci for the NRY). Here, we report a simple capture array method to enrich Illumina sequencing libraries for approximately 500 kb of NRY sequence, which we use to generate NRY sequences from 623 males from 51 populations in the CEPH Human Genome Diversity Panel (HGDP). We also obtained complete mtDNA genome sequences from the same individuals, allowing us to compare maternal and paternal histories free of any ascertainment bias.
Results: We identified 2,228 SNPs in the NRY sequences and 2,163 SNPs in the mtDNA sequences. Our results confirm the controversial assertion that genetic differences between human populations on a global scale are bigger for the NRY than for mtDNA, although the differences are not as large as previously suggested. More importantly, we find substantial regional variation in patterns of mtDNA versus NRY variation. Model-based simulations indicate very small ancestral effective population sizes (<100) for the out-of-Africa migration as well as for many human populations. We also find that the ratio of female effective population size to male effective population size (Nf/Nm) has been greater than one throughout the history of modern humans, and has recently increased due to faster growth in Nf than Nm.
Conclusions: The NRY and mtDNA sequences provide new insights into the paternal and maternal histories of human populations, and the methods we introduce here should be widely applicable for further such studies.
Keywords: HGDP; Population genetics; Population size; Simulations.