Multilocus genotypes, a tree of individuals, and human evolutionary history

Am J Hum Genet. 1997 Sep;61(3):705-18. doi: 10.1086/515510.


Our goal is to infer, from human genetic data, general patterns as well as details of human evolutionary history. Here we present the results of an analysis of genetic data at the level of the individual. A tree relating 144 individuals from 12 human groups of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, inferred from an average of 75 DNA polymorphisms/individual, is remarkable in that most individuals cluster with other members of their regional group. In order to interpret this tree, we consider the factors that influence the tree pattern, including the number of genetic loci examined, the length of population isolation, the sampling process, and the extent of gene flow among groups. Understanding the impact of these factors enables us to infer details of human evolutionary history that might otherwise remain undetected. Our analyses indicate that some recent ancestor(s) of each of a few of the individuals tested may have immigrated. In general, the populations within regional groups appear to have been isolated from one another for <25,000 years. Regional groups may have been isolated for somewhat longer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Continental Population Groups
  • DNA / genetics
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Mutagenesis
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length


  • Genetic Markers
  • DNA