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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Inland post-glacial dispersal in East Asia revealed by mitochondrial haplogroup M9a'b

Min-Sheng Peng126, Malliya Gounder Palanichamy3, Yong-Gang Yao4, Bikash Mitra35, Yao-Ting Cheng126, Mian Zhao126, Jia Liu3, Hua-Wei Wang3, Hui Pan126, Wen-Zhi Wang126, A-Mei Zhang46, Wen Zhang46, Dong Wang46, Yang Zou46, Yang Yang3, Tapas Kumar Chaudhuri5, Qing-Peng Kong12* and Ya-Ping Zhang123*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China

2 KIZ/CUHK Joint Laboratory of Bioresources and Molecular Research in Common Diseases, Kunming, China

3 Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resources, Yunnan University, Kunming, China

4 Key Laboratory of Animal Models and Human Disease Mechanisms of the Chinese Academy of Sciences & Yunnan Province, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Kunming, China

5 Cellular Immunology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, University of North Bengal, Siliguri, India

6 Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

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BMC Biology 2011, 9:2  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-9-2

Published: 10 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Archaeological studies have revealed a series of cultural changes around the Last Glacial Maximum in East Asia; whether these changes left any signatures in the gene pool of East Asians remains poorly indicated. To achieve deeper insights into the demographic history of modern humans in East Asia around the Last Glacial Maximum, we extensively analyzed mitochondrial DNA haplogroup M9a'b, a specific haplogroup that was suggested to have some potential for tracing the migration around the Last Glacial Maximum in East Eurasia.

Results

A total of 837 M9a'b mitochondrial DNAs (583 from the literature, while the remaining 254 were newly collected in this study) pinpointed from over 28,000 subjects residing across East Eurasia were studied here. Fifty-nine representative samples were further selected for total mitochondrial DNA sequencing so we could better understand the phylogeny within M9a'b. Based on the updated phylogeny, an extensive phylogeographic analysis was carried out to reveal the differentiation of haplogroup M9a'b and to reconstruct the dispersal histories.

Conclusions

Our results indicated that southern China and/or Southeast Asia likely served as the source of some post-Last Glacial Maximum dispersal(s). The detailed dissection of haplogroup M9a'b revealed the existence of an inland dispersal in mainland East Asia during the post-glacial period. It was this dispersal that expanded not only to western China but also to northeast India and the south Himalaya region. A similar phylogeographic distribution pattern was also observed for haplogroup F1c, thus substantiating our proposition. This inland post-glacial dispersal was in agreement with the spread of the Mesolithic culture originating in South China and northern Vietnam.