The root of the phylogenetic tree of human populations.

Abstract

Although African populations have been shown to be most divergent from any other human populations, it has been difficult to establish the root of the phylogenetic tree of human populations since the rate of evolutionary change may vary from population to population owing to the fluctuation of population size and other factors. However, the root can be determined by using the chimpanzee as an outgroup and by employing proper statistical methods. Using this strategy, we constructed phylogenetic trees of human populations for five different sets of gene frequency data. The data sets used were two sets of microsatellite loci data (25 and 8 loci, respectively), restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) data (79 loci), protein polymorphism data (15 loci), and Alu insertion frequency data (4 loci). All these data sets showed that the root is located in the branch connecting African and non-African populations, and in the four data sets the root was established at a significant level. These results indicate that Africans are the first group of people that split from the rest of the human populations.

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