Using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers to reconstruct human evolution

Bioessays. 1998 Feb;20(2):126-36. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-1878(199802)20:2<126::AID-BIES5>3.0.CO;2-R.


Molecular genetic-data have greatly improved our ability to test hypotheses about human evolution. During the past decade, a large amount of nuclear and mitochondrial data have been collected from diverse human populations. Taken together, these data indicate that modern humans are a relatively young species. African populations show the largest amount of genetic diversity, and they are the most genetically divergent population. Modern human populations expanded in size first on the African continent. These findings support a recent African origin of modern humans, but this conclusion should be tempered by the possible effects of factors such as gene flow, population size differences, and natural selection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Biological Evolution
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Europe
  • Founder Effect
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetics, Population
  • Humans
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA