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Published in Am. J. Hum. Genet. 70:1152–1171, 2002.


The evolution of the human mitochondrial genome is characterized by the emergence of ethnically distinct lineages or haplogroups. Nine European, seven Asian (including Native American), and three African mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups have been identified previously on the basis of the presence or absence of a relatively small number of restriction-enzyme recognition sites or on the basis of nucleotide sequences of the D-loop region. We have used reduced-median-network approaches to analyze 560 complete European, Asian, and African mtDNA coding-region sequences from unrelated individuals to develop a more complete understanding of sequence diversity both within and between haplogroups. A total of 497 haplogroup-associated polymorphisms were identified, 323 (65%) of which were associated with one haplogroup and 174 (35%) of which were associated with two or more haplogroups. Approximately one-half of these polymorphisms are reported for the first time here. Our results confirm and substantially extend the phylogenetic relationships among mitochondrial genomes described elsewhere from the major human ethnic groups. Another important result is that there were numerous instances both of parallel mutations at the same site and of reversion (i.e., homoplasy). It is likely that homoplasy in the coding region will confound evolutionary analysis of small sequence sets. By a linkage-disequilibrium approach, additional evidence for the absence of human mtDNA recombination is presented here.

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