Tracing Human migration paths through Mitochondrial DNA

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How humans spread around the world is still one of the mysteries in the history of mankind. Mitochondrial DNA has been a crucial line of experimental evidence in developing the current understanding of our genetic history. It has shed significant light in determining the population patterns and human migrations around the world. Studies of mitochondrial DNA have provided new insights in the way humans spread around the globe throughout time. Studies have suggested two major routes from East Africa through which humans exited Africa and colonized the globe. An early route through the tropical coast of the Indian Ocean to southeast Asia and Australasia 60-75 thousand years ago (kya) (Macaulay et al, 2005: 1034), and followed by a dispersal via the Levant into Europe and North Africa 40-45 kya (Atkinson et al, 2008: 472), these routes are often referred as “Out of Africa” migration. Mitochondrial DNA has a lot of characteristics and features which makes its use very essential in determining the spread of humans throughout the world. Human mitochondrial DNA is solely inherited from mothers. A human’s mitochondrial DNA is the same as his mother’s mitochondrial DNA, which is the same as her mother’s mitochondrial DNA. Researchers can estimate a probability distribution of ancestors’ genes and migration paths through time if they are given a set of mitochondrial gene sequences. It is assumed that all mitochondrial DNA types in the human gene pool can ultimately be traced back to a common matrilineal ancestor that lived approximately 200,000 years ago in Africa.(Oven et al, 386) All human mitochondrial DNA can be traced back to a single mitochondrial DNA known as “mitochondrial Eve”, who lived in Africa a long time ago. Mutations are m... ... middle of paper ... ...s of Human Biology 37(3): 288-311. Pierron, D. Chang, I. Arachiche, A. et al. 2011. Mutation Rate Switch inside Eurasian Mitochondrial Haplogroups. Plos one 6(6): e21543. Reich, David. Thangaraj, K. Patterson, Nick. et al. 2009. Reconstructing Indian population history. Nature 461: 489-495. Rienzo, Anna Di. Wilson, Allan. 1991. Branching pattern in the evolutionary tree for human mitochondrial DNA. Evolution 88: 1597-1601. Simoni, Lucia. Calafell, Francese. Pettener, Davide. et al. 2000. Geographic Patterns of mtDNA Diversity in Europe. The American Journal of Human Genetics 66: 262-278. Simonson, Tatum. Xing, Jinchuan. Barrett, Robert. et al. 2011Ancestry of Iban is predominantly Southeast Asian. PLoS ONE 6: e16338. Vigilant, Linda. Stoneking, Mark. Harpending, Henry. et al. 1991. African Populations and Evolution of Human Mitochondrial DNA. Science 253: 1503-1507.

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