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. 2015 Sep 24;10(9):e0138453.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138453. eCollection 2015.

Genetic Heterogeneity in Algerian Human Populations

Free PMC article

Genetic Heterogeneity in Algerian Human Populations

Asmahan Bekada et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


The demographic history of human populations in North Africa has been characterized by complex processes of admixture and isolation that have modeled its current gene pool. Diverse genetic ancestral components with different origins (autochthonous, European, Middle Eastern, and sub-Saharan) and genetic heterogeneity in the region have been described. In this complex genetic landscape, Algeria, the largest country in Africa, has been poorly covered, with most of the studies using a single Algerian sample. In order to evaluate the genetic heterogeneity of Algeria, Y-chromosome, mtDNA and autosomal genome-wide makers have been analyzed in several Berber- and Arab-speaking groups. Our results show that the genetic heterogeneity found in Algeria is not correlated with geography or linguistics, challenging the idea of Berber groups being genetically isolated and Arab groups open to gene flow. In addition, we have found that external sources of gene flow into North Africa have been carried more often by females than males, while the North African autochthonous component is more frequent in paternally transmitted genome regions. Our results highlight the different demographic history revealed by different markers and urge to be cautious when deriving general conclusions from partial genomic information or from single samples as representatives of the total population of a region.

Conflict of interest statement

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


Fig 1
Fig 1. Geographic location of the Algerian samples genotyped in the present study (in red) and the samples obtained from the literature (in yellow).
Fig 2
Fig 2. Bidimensional plots based on uniparental genomes.
PC analyses based on haplogroup data for Y-chromosome and mtDNA; and MDS analyses based on Y-STR haplotype data and on mtDNA sequence data. Abbreviations: ALG/ALG1: Algiers (this study), ALG2: Algiers (Y-chromosome; [10]), ORN1: Oran (present study), ORN2: Oran (Y-chromosome, [21]; mtDNA, [17]), RGB: Reguibate, ZNT: Zenata, MZB: Mozabite, TZO: Tizi Ouzou
Fig 3
Fig 3. Plots for the analysis of genome-wide SNPs.
PC analysis (upper figures) based on autosomal data, and X-chromosome SNPs. ADMIXTURE proportions (bottom figures) at k = 2,3, and 4 based on autosomal data and X-chromosome SNPs. Algeria, stands for general Algerian sample [3]; Mozabite, stands for the Algerian Berber Mozabites [32]; and Zenata, stands for Algerian Berber Zenata (present study).
Fig 4
Fig 4. Correlation plots of the ancestry proportions at k = 4 in the ADMIXTURE analysis comparing autosomes and X-chromosome SNPs.
North African, sub-Saharan, Middle Eastern, and European ancestry proportions are shown in different plots. Solid black lines represent linear correlations between autosomal and X-chromosome components.

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Grant support

This study was supported by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad grant CGL2013-44351-P and by Direcció General de Recerca, Generalitat de Catalunya grant 2014SGR866. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.