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A recent common ancestry for human Y chromosomes

Nature volume 378, pages 376378 (23 November 1995) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THE male-specific portion of the Y chromosome is especially useful for studies of human origins. Patterns of nucleotide variation that are neutral with respect to fitness should permit estimates of when and where ancestral Y chromosomes existed1. However, variation on the human Y chromosome has been observed to be greatly reduced relative to the autosomes and the X chromosome2–5. One explanation is that selection for a favourable mutation on the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome has resulted in the recent fixation of a single Y haplotype5,6. A 2.6-kiIobase fragment encompassing a polymorphic Alu insertion was sequenced from 16 human and four chimpanzee Y chromosomes. Patterns of nucleotide sequence diversity and divergence provide no evidence for a recent, strong selective sweep on the human Y chromosome. The time back to a common ancestral human Y chromosome is estimated to be 188,000 years, with a 95% confidence interval from 51,000 to 411,000 years. These results are consistent with auto-somal and mitochondrial DNA studies that suggest a long-term human effective population size of 10,000 and a sex ratio of 1 (ref. 7). These inferences contradict predictions of the multiregional hypothesis8 positing a widespread transformation of Homo erectus populations into Homo sapiens.

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Affiliations

  1. Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution, Biosciences West, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • Michael F. Hammer

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https://doi.org/10.1038/378376a0

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