Extent of heterogeneity in mitochondrial DNA of European populations

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Variation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region as detected by sequence-specific oligonucleotide (SSO) probes is described for 595 individuals from six European or European-derived populations. Estimates of diversity for mtDNA types exceed 0.91 in all populations, while 50% of the 158 types which were observed occur only once. Of 68 shared types, most occur rarely (<3% of the total population); only one type occurs at a frequency greater than 10%, and it is present at comparable frequencies in all six populations (18-29%). An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) incorporating genetic distances between types shows that 100% of the variation present in the total sample is attributable to within-population diversity, while there are essentially no between-population differences. Another AMOVA was performed for the first hypervariable region SSO sites only, which included this sample plus an additional 537 SSO types from nine more European populations that were inferred from published mtDNA control region sequence data. Similar results were obtained, with over 99% of the variation overall attributable to within-population differences, and less than 1% of the variation attributable to between-population differences. The Saami were the most different from other populations, which had been observed in an earlier study of nucleotide sequence data. Overall, there is no statistically significant heterogeneity for European populations (p > 0.001), and these groups are virtually indistinguishable with respect to mtDNA SSO types. These results demonstrate the utility of mtDNA typing for forensic investigations.

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Journal of Forensic Sciences

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