Archaic African and Asian lineages in the genetic ancestry of modern humans

Am J Hum Genet. 1997 Apr;60(4):772-89.


A 3-kb region encompassing the beta-globin gene has been analyzed for allelic sequence polymorphism in nine populations from Africa, Asia, and Europe. A unique gene tree was constructed from 326 sequences of 349 in the total sample. New maximum-likelihood methods for analyzing gene trees on the basis of coalescence theory have been used. The most recent common ancestor of the beta-globin gene tree is a sequence found only in Africa and estimated to have arisen approximately 800,000 years ago. There is no evidence for an exponential expansion out of a bottlenecked founding population, and an effective population size of approximately 10,000 has been maintained. Modest differences in levels of beta-globin diversity between Africa and Asia are better explained by greater African effective population size than by greater time depth. There may have been a reduction of Asian effective population size in recent evolutionary history. Characteristically Asian ancestry is estimated to be older than 200,000 years, suggesting that the ancestral hominid population at this time was widely dispersed across Africa and Asia. Patterns of beta-globin diversity suggest extensive worldwide late Pleistocene gene flow and are not easily reconciled with a unidirectional migration out of Africa 100,000 years ago and total replacement of archaic populations in Asia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Animals
  • Asia
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Europe
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Globins / genetics*
  • Haplotypes
  • Hominidae / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Time Factors


  • Globins