Get Notifications for New Posts

What is European mtDNA?

So, in my last post I defined precisely what West Eurasian mtDNA. Now I will define what European mtDNA is. There I showed that Europe & the Middle East share lots of mtDNA unless those mHGs are younger than 10,000 years old. Sharing between Europe & the Middle East abruptly stops at the 10,000 year mark.

Within Europe sharing doesn’t stop at the 10,000 year mark. 60%+ of the mtDNA in almost every people group in Europe belongs to the same collection of mHGs which date between 7,000 and 10,000 years old.

The 10,000 year mark is where most mtDNA in Europe goes from being West Eurasian to being European. An important exception is European specific U5 which dates 30,000 years old. Essentially all other mHGs in Europe have common ancestry with mHGs in the Middle East sometime between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.

Below are the 48 (!) somewhat popular mHGs unique to Europe and found in every part of Europe.

H1, H2a, H3, H4a1a, H5a1, H6a1, H7a, H7b, H10e, H27, V, U5a1a1, U5a1a2, U5a1b1, U5b1b1, U5b2a1a1, U3a1, U2e1a1, U4a1, U4a2, U4c1, K1a1a, K1a1b1, K1a1b2, K1a2a, K1a3, K1a4a1, K1b1a1, K1b2a, K1b2b, K1c1, K1c2, T1a1, T2a1a, T2a1b1, T2b, T2e, T2f, J1c1, J1c2, J1c3, J1c5, J1b1a1, J2b1a, J2a1a1, I1a1, W1, X2b.

I have 100 or more mitogenomes from 10 European populations and 3 Middle Eastern Europeans. Below I show the percent of mtDNA in each population which is taken up by those 48 mHGs.

Denmark (N=851): 66%
Britain (N=601): 68%
Ireland (N=246): 67%
Germany (N=300): 65%
Italy (N=420): 42%
Iberia (N=156): 61%
Russia (N=289): 67%
Poland (N=190): 65%
Finland (N=287): 68%
Estonia (N=114): 54%
Iran (N=335): 14%
Armenia (N=206): 5%
Lebanon (N=94): 7%

The bulk of those percentages is made up by just 10 of the 48 mHGs: H1, H3, H6a1, V, U5a1a1, K1a4a1, K1a1b1, T2b, J1c1, J1c2. Below is the combined frequency of those 10 European-specific mHGs…

Denmark (N=851): 40%
Britain (N=601): 40%
Ireland (N=246): 40%
Germany (N=300): 43%
Italy (N=420): 29%
Iberia (N=156): 42%
Russia (N=289): 40%
Poland (N=190): 32%
Finland (N=287): 36%
Estonia (N=114): 27%
Iran (N=335): 7%
Armenia (N=206): 2%
Lebanon (N=94): 2%

The high frequency of “young” European-wide mHGs means there’s lots of “recent” (Neolithic and after the Neolithic) shared ancestry between all European ethnic groups. By most people’s measurements 6,000 years ago isn’t recent which is why I put recent in scare quotes. Most of this sharing which dates to the Neolithic-era is the result of shared Neolithic Anatolian ancestry which I will discuss in my next post.

Within Europe, are some pretty big sub-regions where the mtDNA sharing is even more recent. The best example is East & West Slavs, like Russians and Poles, in Eastern Europe. Their mtDNA look almost like clones of each other. East & West Slavs take up most of what is referred to a Eastern Europe which is bigger than the Midwest region in the USA.

Large ethno-linguistic groups in Europe with a “tribal” origin: Norse, Gaels (Irish, Scottish), Slavs (Russians, Bosnains, etc), Albanians, Basque, Balts, and Finns definitely have recent mtDNA signatures. Countries with a more political than “tribal” origin: France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, probably don’t. But villages, historically linked sub-regions, like Sicily & Sardinia, within those countries definitely do. Old Italian villages for example tend to have inbred mtDNA.