Mitochondrial DNA (Mt-DNA) Haplogroups
This page is a summary of the mt-DNA mitochondrial haplogroups all originating from our common original human maternal ancestor in Africa (commonly referred to as ‘mitochondrial-Eve’). Current scientific evidence points to her living in Northwest/Central Africa some 160, 000 years ago. All current living humans carry her mitochondrial DNA, but as small groups of people migrated away, they developed single mutations (not as commonly as in Y-DNA), which were then passed on by mothers to their children, and their daughters children. Other groups who took a different path out of Africa didn’t have these mutations, but developed their own unique mutations. An analysis of all of these mutations in the human mitochondrial genome has enabled us to identify 30 major groupings called haplogroups, each of which is further split up into subclades and sub-sub clades etc. as humans evolved and migrated across the world. During this migration, some groups settled and spread their particular mutations to future generations in the same area, whereas others moved on and started their own dynasties in different parts of the world. By analysing the frequency of particular haplogroups and subclades in different parts of the world, scientists have been able to develop migration maps of the path modern humans maternal ancestors took right up to today. The maps below, taken from Family Tree DNA’s website (https://www.familytreedna.com/my/mtdna-migration-map/ ) show the most likely route of each of these 30 haplogroups. By doing an mt-DNA test, you will find out which of these routes your maternal ancestors took.
In 1994 Professor Bryan Sykes, an authority on DNA and human evolution, was called in to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy. News of the discovery of the Ice Man and his age, which was put at over five thousand years old, fascinated the world. But what made the story particularly extraordinary was that Professor Sykes was also able to track down a living generic relative of the Ice Man, a woman living in Britain today. How was he able to locate a living relative of a man who died thousands of years ago? In The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes gives us a first hand account of his research into a remarkable gene which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line and shows how it is being used to track our genetic ancestors through time and space. After plotting thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world he found that they had clustered around a handful of distinct groups. In Europe there are only seven. The conclusion- almost everyone of native European descent, wherever they live in the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, the Seven Daughters of Eve. He named these daughters Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine, and Jasmine.
Haplogroup H (Helena)
Mitochondrial haplogroup H is a predominantly European haplogroup that originated outside of Europe before the last glacial maximum (LGM). It first expanded in the northern Near East and the southern Caucasus between 33,000 and 26,000 years ago, and later migrations from Iberia suggest it reached Europe before the LGM. It has also spread to Siberia and Inner Asia. Today, about 40% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe are classified as haplogroup H.
Mitochondrial haplogroup HV is a primarily European haplogroup that underwent an expansion beginning approximately 20,000 years ago. It is more prevalent in western Europe than in eastern Europe, and descendant lineages of the original haplogroup HV appear in the Near East due to more recent migration. One of the dominant mitochondrial haplogroups in Europe, haplogroup HV pre-dates the occurrence of farming in Europe.
Haplogroup V (Velda)
Mitochondrial haplogroup V is a primarily European haplogroup and underwent an expansion within Europe beginning approximately 13,000 years ago. Though it occurs at low frequency throughout Europe, it is interesting to note that haplogroup V’s highest frequency is found among the Saami in Finland and the Catalunya region of Spain. Some evidence suggests that individuals bearing haplogroup V participated in Europe’s colonization following the last period of glaciation.
Mitochondrial haplogroup R0 (formerly known as pre-HV) is a primarily Near Eastern and South Asian haplogroup beginning approximately 25,000 years ago. It occurs most frequently in the Arabian Peninsula, with the highest frequencies found in Socotri and Kalash. Smaller frequencies of R0 are found in northern Africa and the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan, Tunisia, Somalia, and Morocco), South Asia, and Europe.
Haplogroup U (Ursula)
The mitochondrial super-haplogroup U encompasses haplogroups U1-U8 and haplogroup K. Haplogroup U*, with its multiple lineages nested within, dates to older than 50,000 years ago. Most likely originating in central Asia and spreading into Europe in a very early expansion, haplogroup U* in Europe pre-dates the development of agriculture in Europe. Interestingly, individuals with haplogroup U* may have been come in contact with Neanderthals living in Europe at the time.
Haplogroup J (Jasmine)
The mitochondrial haplogroup J contains several sub-lineages. The original haplogroup J originated in the Near East approximately 50,000 years ago. Within Europe, sub-lineages of haplogroup J have distinct and interesting distributions. Haplogroup J*—the root lineage of haplogroup J—is found distributed throughout Europe but at a relatively low frequency. Haplogroup J is generally considered one of the prominent lines that were part of the Neolithic spread of agriculture into Europe from the Near East beginning approximately 10,000 years ago
Haplogroup T (Tara)
The mitochondrial haplogroup T is best characterized as a European lineage. With an origin in the Near East greater than 45,000 years ago, the significant sub-lineages of haplogroup T entered Europe around the Neolithic 10,000 years ago. Once in Europe, these sub-lineages underwent a dramatic expansion associated with the arrival of agriculture in Europe. Today, we find haplogroup T*—the root haplogroup for haplogroup T—widely distributed in Europe.
Haplogroup K (Katrine)
The mitochondrial super-haplogroup U encompasses haplogroups U1-U7 and haplogroup K. Haplogroup K is found through Europe and contains multiple closely related lineages indicating a recent population expansion. The origin of haplogroup K dates to approximately 16,000 years ago. It has been suggested that individuals with this haplogroup participated in the pre-Neolithic expansion following the Last Glacial Maximum.
Haplogroup X (Xenia)
Haplogroup X is derived from the N super haplogroup, which dates to approximately 65,000 years ago. The origin of haplogroup X dates to around 30,000 years and is found distributed throughout the world. Initially located in Europe and thought to be only distributed regionally, the finding of haplogroup X in the Americas startled the human population genetics community. Recently, it has been discovered that there are two significant sub-lineages within haplogroup X. The geographic distribution and relative ages of these two sub-lineages accords with previous ideas concerning the world’s peopling.
Haplogroup A is found in eastern Eurasia and throughout the Americas. This haplogroup was present in the populations that initially colonized the pre-Columbian Americas and dates to at least 30,000 years ago. Future work will resolve how many distinct colonization events there were in the original peopling of the Americas and the origin and role of individuals bearing haplogroup A
Haplogroup B is found in eastern and southeastern Eurasia and throughout the Americas. This haplogroup was present in the populations that initially colonized the pre-Columbian Americas, and using American samples dates to at least 12,500 years ago. This haplogroup can also be found distributed in Polynesia. Future research will determine how many different migration events there were in the earliest peopling of the Americas and the role of individuals bearing haplogroup B.
Haplogroup C is found in eastern Eurasia and throughout the Americas. This haplogroup was present in the populations that initially colonized the pre-Columbian Americas and dates to at least 40,000 years ago. Future work will resolve how many distinct colonization events there were in the original peopling of the Americas and the role of individuals bearing haplogroup C.
Haplogroup D is primarily found in the Americas. This haplogroup was present in the populations that initially colonized the pre-Columbian Americas and dates to at least 20,000 years ago. Future research will determine how many different migration events there were in the earliest peopling of the Americas and the role of individuals bearing haplogroup B.
Following the out of Africa exodus, a wave of the human species moved through the Horn of Africa along the coast of Asia, expanding to Central and East Asia around 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. Haplogroup E is believed to have originated in Indonesia approximately 30,000 years ago and was dispersed by rising sea levels during the last glacial period. Contemporary descendants of haplogroup E are predominantly found throughout maritime Southeast Asia.
Haplogroup G is found in East Asian populations. The G1 branch reaches its highest frequencies in the region of Japan and Korea. The G2 branch is most commonly found in China and central Asia and goes as far as South Siberia.
The haplogroup M cluster is generally of east Eurasia—a geographic region that includes south Asia, east Asia, and Australasia. One of the two-deep roots of the mitochondrial tree of haplogroups found in Asia is haplogroup M dated approximately 70,000 years ago. Interestingly, one of the sub-haplogroups of the M cluster, haplogroup M1, is found primarily in northern Africa, suggesting either a very early divergence from the root of haplogroup M or even migration back to Africa after the initial dispersal into Eurasia.
Following the out of Africa exodus, a wave of the human species moved through the Horn of Africa along the coast of Asia, expanding to Australia around 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. Haplogroup Q is considered to have originated in Asia 55,000 to 65,000 years ago or in Africa before the out of Africa exodus. Today, descendants of Haplogroup Q can be found in the southern Pacific region, particularly in New Guinea, Melanesia, and indigenous Australians.
Haplogroup L0 is believed to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa 140,000 to 150,000 years ago and is the minor of the two branches surviving from maternal Eve. While a fraction of the human species left Africa, your ancestors remained. Migrating throughout the continent for more than 100,000 years, they transformed their lifestyle from Hunter-Gatherers to Agriculturalists 3,000 years ago. Today, around 25% of the Southeast African population belong to haplogroup L0.
Part of the L cluster of haplogroups, which has been concretely characterized as representing the original human mitochondrial lineage, haplogroup L1 is detected throughout Africa. Future work will further document the historical distribution of this haplogroup and closely related haplogroups of the L cluster.
Part of the L cluster of haplogroups, which has been concretely characterized as representing the original human mitochondrial lineage, haplogroup L2, is found in Africa. This haplogroup dates approximately 70,000 years ago and is detected in the highest frequency in north, west, and central Africa. Future research will further document the historical distribution of this haplogroup and closely related haplogroups of the L cluster.
Part of the L cluster of haplogroups, which has been concretely characterized as representing the original human mitochondrial lineage, haplogroup L3 is found in Africa. This haplogroup dates to approximately 60,000 years ago and is detected throughout Africa.
Haplogroup F is distributed throughout eastern and southeastern Eurasia. The broad distribution is impressive given the relatively recent origin of this lineage—approximately 10,000 years. Future research will help determine the processes connected with the recent rapid regional expansion of this lineage.
Following the out of the Africa exodus, a wave of the human species moved through the Horn of Africa along the coast of Asia, expanding to Australia around 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. Haplogroup P is considered to have originated in South Asia 50,000 years ago, spreading out to Eurasia, Oceania, and Australia. Haplogroup P has been found with high frequency in East Asia and Southeast Asia. Today, Haplogroup P is found up to 40% across its distribution range.
Principally a European haplogroup, haplogroup I is detected at very low frequency across west Eurasia with slightly greater representation in northern and western Europe. Given its wide but sparse distribution, it was likely present in those populations that first colonized Europe. This hypothesis is supported by the estimate of its age—approximately 30,000 years.
Haplogroup W is derived from the N super haplogroup, which dates to approximately 65,000 years ago. The origin of haplogroup W dates about 25,000 years ago, and it is mainly found distributed in west Eurasia (or Europe). Individuals bearing this lineage likely participated in expanding into the bulk of Europe following the Last Glacial Maximum.
The N super haplogroup has been characterized as pan-Eurasian. Haplogroup N is one of the two significant trunks emerging from the original African root and dates approximately 65,000 years ago. Interestingly, numerous sub-haplogroups of the N cluster—haplogroup N1 and derivative lineages—have been detected in the Near East, suggesting either early divergence near the root of haplogroup N or subsequent migrations back towards western Eurasia following the original dispersal into east Eurasia.
Following the out of Africa exodus, a wave of the human species moved through the Horn of Africa along the coast of Asia, expanding to Australia around 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. Haplogroup S is believed to have originated in South Asia 50,000 years ago, spreading out to Eurasia, Oceania, and Australia. Today, Haplogroup S is found in the First Peoples of Australia.
Following the out of Africa exodus, a major wave of the human species moved through the coastlines of Arabia and then to Eurasia. Haplogroup Y is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia 12,000 to 30,000 years ago. Haplogroup Y has been found with high frequency in the Malay Archipelago. Today, around 60% of the Indigenous population of the Sea of Okhotsk area belong to haplogroup Y.
Following the out of the Africa exodus, a wave of the human species moved through the Horn of Africa along Asia’s coast, expanding to Central and East Asia around 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. Haplogroup Z is believed to have originated in Central Asia 25,000 years ago. Today, haplogroup Z’s descendants are found predominantly in East Asia and Central Asia, with some of the highest frequencies found in Russian populations.